A variety of signs may point to a possible mental health problem in a child or teenager. Some of them are listed below.
If your child has experienced any of the WARNING SIGNS below, or if the symptoms are severe, seek help immediately. Talk to your doctor, a school counselor, or other mental health professional who is trained to assess whether or not your child has a mental health problem.
- really sad and hopeless without good reason, and the feelings don’t go away;
- very angry most of the time, cries a lot, or overreacts to things;
- worthless or guilty a lot;
- anxious or worried a lot more than other young people;
- grief for a prolonged time after a loss or death;
- extremely fearful-has unexplained fears or more fears than most children;
- constantly concerned about physical problems or appearance;
- frightened that his or her mind is controlled or is out of control.
Experiences big changes, for example:
- does much worse in school;
- loses interest in things usually enjoyed;
- has unexplained changes in sleeping or eating habits;
- avoids friends or family and wants to be alone all the time;
- daydreams too much and can’t get things done;
- feels life is too hard to handle or talks about suicide;
- hears voices that cannot be explained.
Is limited by:
- poor concentration; can’t make decisions;
- inability to sit still or focus attention;
- worry about being harmed, hurting others, or about doing something ÒbadÓ;
- the need to wash, clean things, or perform certain routines dozens of times a day;
- thoughts that race almost too fast to follow;
- persistent nightmares.
Behaves in ways that cause problems, for example:
- uses alcohol or other drugs;
- eats large amounts of food and then forces vomiting, abuses laxatives, or takes enemas to avoid weight gain;
- continues to diet or exercise obsessively although bone-thin;
- often hurts other people, destroys property, or breaks the law;
- does things that can be life threatening.