Which mental illnesses tend to show signs during childhood?

Mental illnesses are typically chronic conditions that require a lifetime of management. Pediatricians are learning more about how these illnesses present themselves during childhood, making earlier diagnoses more possible than ever before. By diagnosing mental illnesses early, it is possible to delay the onset of some symptoms and prevent complications, while making the disease easier to manage for life. These are some of the mental illnesses that may show symptoms during childhood.

Depression and bipolar disorder
Depression and bipolar disorder can occur in young children and teens, often causing many of the same symptoms that they do in adults. Children who are suffering from depression may experience:

  • Sleeping more or less than normal
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • Withdrawal from normal activities
  • Falling grades in school

Children who have bipolar disorder may experience both episodes of depressive symptoms and manic episodes, during which kids may be extremely active and may seem suddenly and disproportionately happy or excited. These symptoms can cycle back and forth over an extended period, or they may change very quickly.

Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia was once thought to only appear in late adolescence and early adulthood, but pediatricians now know that it can appear earlier. With this condition, kids may complain of hearing or seeing things or having confused thoughts. Parents may notice behaviors that seem unusual or that kids seem sensitive to light and sound and feel persecuted.

Sometimes, kids experience symptoms of schizophrenia before they actually develop the condition, including hallucinations, anxiety, and slow language and motor development. Starting treatment at this stage can reduce the risk of more intense episodes of psychosis later in life.

Anxiety disorders
Like depression, kids with anxiety disorders have many of the same symptoms as adults. These symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Panic attacks
  • Sleeplessness

Sometimes, anxiety disorder symptoms can be confused for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Your pediatrician will consider a wide range of symptoms to make an accurate diagnosis.

Kids with mental illnesses can thrive with pediatric care to manage their conditions. At Sunrise Children’s Hospital, our pediatricians can help kids get the right diagnosis when they have a mental illness and find the right combination of therapies and medications to help. Contact us today at (702) 233-5437 to make an appointment with a pediatrics specialist in Las Vegas .

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