Monday, November 14, 2011

11 Warning Signs of Mental Illness in Children

The Mayo Clinic released a list of warning signs indicating that children may have mental disorders recently.  The clinic listed 11 "action signs" that Mayo psychiatrist Dr. Peter Jensen described as  "crisp, easily understood messages that parents, teachers, health care providers could ... relate to." 

This is especially important because more than half of children with serious mental disorders are untreated, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. 

Here, then, is the list of warning signs, endorsed by everyone from the American Academy of Pediatrics to NAMI:
  • Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks.
  • Seriously trying to harm or kill himself or herself, or making plans to do so.
  • Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason, sometimes with a racing heart or fast breathing.
  • Involvement in many fights, using a weapon, or wanting to hurt others. 
  • Severe out-of-control behaviors that can hurt the child or others.
  • Not eating, throwing up, or using laxatives to lose weight.
  • Intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities.
  • Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still that puts the child in physical danger or causes school failure.
  • Repeated use of drugs or alcohol.
  • Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships.
  • Drastic changes in behavior or personality.
Quick diagnosis can make a difference for children. So, if you are concerned, seek a professional evaluation. 

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