One out of every six American children has a mental health disorder. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, substance abuse, ADHD, or something else, mental health problems should be treated as early as possible.
Let’s talk about the symptoms you, as a parent, should recognize and how you and your pediatrician can work together to improve mental health in kids.
What Are Common Child and Adolescent Mental Health Disorders?
Frankly, they are just as familiar as those affecting American adults, but they can be more manageable if diagnosed and treated by a mental health professional as soon as possible. The following are the most frequently seen mental health disorders in kids and teens.
These include problems such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Often, these problems have comorbidities or co-existing mental health conditions, such as depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Symptoms of anxiety disorders include insomnia, poor concentration, rapid heart rate and breathing, and persistent feelings of panic.
Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and apathy persist for days to weeks when a child or adolescent is clinically depressed. Also called a major depressive disorder, this mental health problem often originates in a traumatic event or major life change but also has strong heredity and brain chemistry components.
Anorexia and bulimia are the two foremost eating disorders found mostly in adolescent girls. Struggling with unrealistic body image issues, kids with eating disorders put their general health at risk as they alternately starve or binge eat.
Known as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD typically becomes noticeable in school-age children (more boys than girls) as they exhibit:
- Impulsive behaviors
- Poor concentration and academic performance (despite ability and intelligence)
- Inability to complete tasks
- Few lasting friendships
- High energy and frustration levels
ADHD is classified as a neurodevelopmental disorder; however, it often features symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems as well.
Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance among kids and adolescents, likely because of its availability. Tobacco and marijuana usage are also problematic
Kids who abuse alcohol and other substances are more likely to have problems at school (both social and academic), engage in risky behaviors, such as reckless driving and sex, and have problems with the law. Physical injury and even death are related to substance abuse in adolescents.
As with other mental health problems, substance abuse has noticeable symptoms, such as lethargy, poor social interaction, withdrawal from friends and family, and more.
What Parents Can Do
Foster good communication by being available and present for your adolescent. Be as patient with moods as much as possible, and provide a healthy, nurturing structure and routine in your home life.
Additionally, be aware of changes in how your child acts and talks. While kids go through developmental stages and phases, persistent isolation, angry outbursts, or drastic changes in school performance are red flags. Talk to your child, and get help from your pediatrician when you feel concerned.
How Your Pediatrician Can Help
Child and adolescent mental health is as important as physical health. That’s why your pediatrician offers medications and therapies to help kids and their families manage symptoms.
The most common therapy used is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), which helps adolescents create healthier neuro-pathways and new ways of thinking and behaving. Pediatricians help kids cope with daily stressors, problem-solve effectively and safely, and formulate goals that advance their wellness and productivity as students and members of families, and the community.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Assessment and Treatment in Tuckahoe, NY
The board-certified pediatricians at Village Pediatric Group provide the highest quality mental health services for children with mental health disorders. The primary approach we use is cognitive behavioral therapy, and we maintain a warm, compassionate, and supportive environment for you and your child.
Find out how we can help your child reach mental health wellness. To schedule an appointment with one of our pediatricians, call our pediatric clinic in Tuckahoe today at (914) 771-7070 or use our convenient online appointment request form.