Signs, Symptoms and Conditions in Children and Adolescents
Support for mental health matters for all ages
General warning signs
Young people dealing with a specific mental health concern may show some of the same symptoms as adults. However, there are also expressions that are more commonly seen in children and teens as their bodies and brains are still developing along with their ability to attend to, process, and understand the world around them. For example, a young child may not be able to use words to fully express the emotionally complex experience of fear or anxiety and may respond to fear-provoking situations with tantrums and other disruptive behavior. Also, children and teens spend much of their days in different settings than adults (e.g., attending school), and symptoms can look different in those settings.
Sudden or substantial changes in mood
Often being irritable or angry
Often feeling sad or hopeless
Thoughts of suicide
Self-harm behavior such as cutting
Avoiding or refusing school
Sudden or substantial changes in academic performance
Having too much energy
Out-of-control or risk-taking behavior
Rule-breaking and acting out
Trouble socializing, connecting, or fitting in with others
Excessive fear, worry, or distress
Strong preoccupation with certain unwanted thoughts, feelings, or memories
Intense urges to do things or do them a certain way
Eating problems such as eating too much or taking very strict measures to control one’s weight
Excessive preoccupation with body image
Sleeping too much or not enough
Is it just a phase? Knowing when to seek professional help.
Most mental health conditions that begin in childhood or adolescence can be treated effectively. Early identification and effective treatment are related to better long-term outcomes.
If problems persist for more than a couple weeks and are interfering with home life, school, or friends, consider seeking help from a mental health professional.
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