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Mental health–1: Common mental disorders among children

Mental health–1: Common mental disorders among children

30 November | 0 Comments | By Arizona Mental Health Helpline Team

Contrary to popular belief, children can have mental health disorders just like adults. However, some mental illnesses are more common among children than in other age groups. There needs to be awareness about these disorders because children may not be able to identify the problem themselves.

In this series, “Mental health,” various age-group specific disorders will be discussed. This article is about the disorders that affect children predominantly.

Anxiety disorders

Anxiety is a common childhood mental health disorder. While a little bit of anxiety is common and natural, when it starts interfering with the day-to-day activities of the children, it is termed as an anxiety disorder. Children can have multiple types of anxiety disorders, including separation, general and social anxiety. They can also have PTSD, selective mutism and panic disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy along with medication is the best treatment for critical anxiety cases.

However, one of the common anxiety disorders that children face is attention deficit hypersensitivity disorder (ADHD). Children with ADHD often risk being failures in school. They may also exhibit other psychiatric conditions. Anxiety, mood problems, uncooperative and defiant behavior, and seriously aggressive behavior that can include theft and vandalism are common in such children. Children having ADHD have a higher rate of substance abuse in adolescence when the psychological and behavioral issues are not resolved.

Behavioral disorders

Children generally have two types of behavioral disorders:

  • Oppositional defiant disorder, wherein children become openly hostile, uncooperative and irritable. They become angry and, mean and spiteful towards others. They may also do things deliberately to annoy people.
  • Conduct disorder makes children aggressive all the time. They often threaten, or harm people or animals. They may also damage or destroy property.

Mood disorders

Mood disorders include major depression, dysthymia and bipolar disorder. Distinct emotional, psychological and physical symptoms, such as sadness, hopelessness or feelings of guilt may accompany depression and stay for more than two weeks. Dysthymia is a chronic lower level of depression that may persist for two weeks. In bipolar disorder, children may switch between depression and manic phase.

The common symptoms of mood disorders may include the following:

  • being sad all the time and crying easily.
  • being irritable or having a disturbed sleep pattern.
  • losing interest in otherwise enjoyable activities.

Eating disorders

Eating disorders can be of three types, which are:

  • Bulimia nervosa: Bulimia nervosa includes numerous sessions of binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives, water pills or other medications, fasting or excessive exercise to counter the excessive food eaten.
  • Anorexia nervosa: It is a condition in which the patient refuses to maintain the minimal normal body weight, has an excessive fear of weight gain and a distorted perception of one’s body size and shape.
  • Binge-eating disorder: It involves the same binge-eating behavior as in bulimia nervosa but without the purging.


Schizophrenia is a mental illness that is characterized by hallucinations and wrong patterns of thinking. Children can have schizophrenia at an early phase of development, disabling the child mentally and physically.

If a child confuses TV soaps with reality; cannot keep or make friends; becomes extremely moody; laughs though feeling sad; cannot differentiate between dreams and reality; thinks that people are trying to get him or can read the mind, they should be immediately checked for schizophrenia.

Early treatment is critical

Children’s mental health disorders should be treated as early as possible since delays can hamper the child’s future. Some parents feel hopeless when they discover that their children have a mental illness, but there is no need to despair.

There are dependable mental health treatment centers in Arizona that can help children overcome their mental illnesses. If you want to know more about mental health disorder treatment centers in Arizona, you can chat with the executives of Arizona Mental Health Helpline or call the 24/7 helpline at 866-606-7791 for immediate help.

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