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Red Flags of Mental Health in Children

by Haystack Creatives LLC

No parent desires to witness their child suffering for any reason. However, mental health is one of the most enormously difficult issues to watch. Most of the time, red flags of mental health remain hidden for years and it takes time to recognize it until it’s too late. As a parent, how do you know when your child’s emotions are signaling something more than just the norm of growing up? There are situations and behavioral issues that can signal that something serious might be happening with your child’s state of mind. Early detection and intervention can save years of heartbreak. So it’s important that parents
know how to recognize the sneaky red flags of mental health.

Understanding your child is one of the most important skill that you should learn as a parent. It is very helpful in becoming effective in nurturing your child as they grow and mature. One of the biggest challenges for parents is recognizing the difference between a mental issue and the normal developmental changes that happen during the formative years, says Mark A. Stein, PhD, a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the University of Washington. Here are symptoms to watch for.

Mood changes

Kid’s mood changes like weather, so watch for drastic change in behavior. Like a calm kid suddenly getting a fight or an energetic kid becoming increasingly isolated and withdrawn. Pay attention if your child’s mood dips to the point where they seem very sad for a week or does not look forward to the things they enjoy.

Intense Anxiety

You can see signs that a child is overly anxious. They might act excessively clingy, refuse to talk or do things. It can make them feel afraid or worried. They may feel butterflies in their stomach, a red face, cold hands, dry mouth or a racing heart. Sometimes, children turn their anxiety into defiant behavior, tantrums or anger.

Difficult Concentrating

Trouble paying attention is often first identified by a teacher who notices that a kid seems more easily distracted than most other kids of his age. A teacher might report that your child is having a struggle to sit still, not following instructions or difficulties in talking turns in games or conversation.

Changes in Eating or Sleeping Habits

If your child is suddenly suffering from insomnia or tries to sleep all day, it could be a sign of depression. Same goes with eating disorders which are most common among teens. They usually have an obsession about their weight and appearance and it causes them to control or restrict their food intake. If you notice any of these warning signs in your child, seek help right away. Make an appointment with your pediatrician or your family doctor.

It is not unusual for children to develop mental illness early in their lives. In fact research shows that 50% of mental illnesses can be diagnosed by the mid-teenage years. There are many reasons why mental health illnesses appear in childhood, with family history playing a big role. Major life events, from the personal to social, can also bring a previously hidden mental illness to light. Your child’s environment, lifestyle, stress levels and brain chemistry can also contribute. The thing is that there usually isn’t one direct cause of mental illness. Instead, it can be several factors linking together.

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