How do I Recognize Mental Health Issues in My Child?

Advice and Steps to Take from a Trusted Psychiatrist in Baltimore

As a parent, you do everything in your power to keep your kids happy and healthy. From choosing healthy meals to planning trips to the playground to making sure they get enough exercise, the choices you make as a parent indefinitely affect the quality of life you child lives. This is a lot of pressure, and the decisions you make become even more imperative if you see early signs of mental health issues in your child. Luckily, you and your child are not alone, which is why Psych Associates of Maryland—the trusted name for finding a mental health practitioner or psychiatrist in Baltimore—are here to break down your biggest questions on mental health in children.

How frequently do children experience mental health issues?

The scale of mental health issues in children

person holding up frowny face drawing

The stigma around mental health leads us to believe that children cannot be affected by mental health issues. We are led to believe that mental health issues stem from life experiences, the stresses of adulthood, and more, but this is not correct. Because many mental illnesses stem from a variety of external factors and chemical imbalances, they can occur at any age and at nearly any time.

According to Mental Health America, one in five children has a diagnosable mental health issue. However, more than two-thirds of these children get little to no help, leading to long-term effects on their future relationships, behavior, and achievements.

This lack of recognition toward adolescent mental health issues doesn’t stem entirely from ignorance, though. Our cultural understanding of mental health is still evolving, and a lack of education can lead to a generalized misunderstanding of mental illness and its roots.

While mental health issues in children are typically first recognized by parents, family, and teachers, the adults in a child’s life often find they are walking a tightrope in bringing up a child’s potential mental health issue. Is it worth bringing up what could simply be a child’s personality? Do I want my child to be medicated for a disorder so early? Will my child resent me for trying to get them help? These are all considerations that parents make when deciding whether to find a psychiatrist in Baltimore to explore their child’s mental health issues.

However, inaction cannot be an option. Show your child that you care and that help is available by exploring the mental health options available to them.

What are the symptoms of mental health issues in children?

Common symptoms from a psychiatrist in Baltimore

kid sitting on sofa

Children don’t have an understanding of mental health, illness, or mood disorders; they can’t tell you if their mood is off or express their emotions like adults, which is what makes diagnosing children with mental health issues so difficult. As a parent, it’s your job to keep an eye out for common symptoms of mental health issues, including the following:

  • Mood changes
  • Intense, unregulatable emotions
  • Behavioral changes
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Unexplained weight change
  • Physical symptoms (unexplained hives, headaches, etc.)
  • Self-harm
  • Substance abuse

If you note these changes in your children, the first step is to start an open, trusting, and loving conversation with them. If you suspect that your child’s immediate safety could be in danger, it’s best to take the necessary steps to protect them. Introduce the possibility of seeking professional health from a psychiatrist in Baltimore or other mental health practitioners.

Common Mental Health Disorders in Children

Likely Diagnoses from a Psychiatrist in Baltimore

sad child sitting next to teddy bear

There are a wide variety of possible mental health disorders your child may have—some of which you may not even think of as a disorder. These include:

  • Anxiety: Sometimes coinciding with another disorder, anxiety includes generalized fear or nervousness in a variety of situations. This includes phobias, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, panic disorders, and more.
  • Depression: Depressions isn’t necessarily caused by the environmental factors adults associate with depression. Caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, depression can manifest in children as sleep issues, appetite changes, and a shift in energy levels.
  • ODD: Commonly underrecognized as a legitimate disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder typically starts before age 8 and causes children to act out persistently and cause problems at home.
  • CD: Similar to ODD, Conduct Disorder leads children to break serious rules and be overly aggressive.
  • ADHD: Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder leads children to have trouble paying attention, act compulsively, or be overly active in inappropriate situations.
  • Tourettes: Commonly misunderstood as a disorder that leads to the yelling of lewd comments, Tourettes Syndrome is a disorder that typically begins between ages 5 and 10. Children with Tourette's experience verbal and physical tics that are often increased in times of stress.
  • OCD: Children with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder often feel that repeated, consuming behaviors will prevent bad things from happening.
  • PTSD: Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs in children who experience feelings of stress from a traumatic event for over a month following the event. The child can either be a victim or witness to the traumatic event and can experience anxious, terror-like symptoms.

What kind of solutions can a practitioner or psychiatrist in Baltimore provide?

Options for treating mental health issues in children

therapist and child

One of the most common solutions for treating mental health issues in children is psychotherapy. This type of therapy looks at a variety of different methods, including play therapy. In play therapy, a practitioner and the child will play out situations and create alternatives for disruptive thoughts and behavior.

Psychotherapy isn’t the only option, though. Psych Associates of Maryland offers Applied Behavioral Analysis which is frequently used in children with Autism, and is usually concurrent with mental health issues. Additionally, a psychiatrist in Baltimore can prescribe medication for your child. However, since every child and his or her needs are different, the only way to find the best treatment for your child is to visit a licensed practitioner.

If you’re looking to find help for your child with mental health issues, get in touch with Psych Associates of Maryland to schedule an appointment today.


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