Signs That Your Child May Be Mentally Unwell

While it might be more common to associate mental illnesses with older children, such as teenagers, the reality is that children of all ages can struggle with their mental health, and spotting the signs is not always straightforward. Below are a few clues that could show if your child is mentally unwell:

Frequent mood changes or mood swings

It’s arguable that all kids can be moody, and this may well be understandable given the challenges they face both mentally and physically, but if your child’s mood changes rapidly or their attitude alters dramatically, then it could be a sign that something more significant is going on.

Eating disorders

Pickiness or fussiness with food might be something that we expect to see in children, but if your child is suddenly refusing to eat, or is binging or overeating, then these could all be signs that your child is anxious, stressed about or something or suffering from depression.

If talking to your child about what you’ve noticed doesn’t satisfy your concerns, then make an appointment for them to see your local doctor or counselor and get professionally support.

Misuse of drugs or alcohol

While usually associated with older children, drug or alcohol misuse can occur at any age, and although in many cases it can be attested to an experimental phase of the growing up process, sometimes it can be caused by an issue with their mental health.  

Abnormal anxiety or paranoia

It’s perfectly normal, even expected, that kids may display some symptoms of anxiety, just as adults do, but if your child seems to be increasingly fearful of things without reason, then they may be grappling with generalized anxiety. This is a common indicator in adults and children of a mental health issue, and it’s best to seek professional help for your child if you spot any signs of this.

Poor grades at school or college

Your child may not always be top of the class, but if you notice that their grades are falling, then it could suggest that something is wrong, especially if the fall happens swiftly instead of gradually. Be alert and monitor things, and as with any potential issue with your child’s mental health, get them the support of a professional if you’re worried.

Physical or verbal abuse

A child may shout and scream or lash out at others from time to time, but if your child is becoming physically or verbally violent on a more frequent basis, then they may be struggling to deal with their emotions and suffering mentally as a result.

If your child conducts this behavior in response to a teacher, parent or other caregiver, then this could be a red flag that means your child needs professional help. Any increase in violent episodes or verbally abusive arguments should be closely monitored and never ignored or taken lightly.

Children can be complicated, that much is true, but writing any strange or upsetting behavior off as being just a phase, or a normal part of growing up, can mean that they don’t get the help they need, and that they go on to carry these issues into adulthood. If you’re seeing a sudden change in behavior, or a gradual downturn that worsens over time, talking to a professional counselor can be the key to a turnaround.

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