• Mental disorders in children are rather common, appearing in about one-quarter of this age group every year.
  • The most common are anxiety disorders, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Developmental disorders and psychotic disorders in children can have a lifelong effect on the child and their family.
  • In any age group, there is no one cause for mental disorders in children.
  • Besides the specific symptoms, children with a psychiatric illness can show signs that are particular to their age and developmental level.
  • Children with mental health problems can have poorer educational performance and more involvement with the criminal justice system.


What are the most common types of mental disorders in children?

Mental disorders in children are very common and sometimes serious. Approximately one-fourth of children and teens face some mental disorder every year, wherein the most common are anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder or separation anxiety disorder. Other common types include behaviour disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mood disorders such as depression, and substance-use disorders such as alcohol use disorders. In teens more often than in younger children, addictions, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and less frequently early-onset schizophrenia may occur.

Although uncommon, developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorders can have a considerable lifelong effect on the child and their family. It is a developmental disorder characterized by inadequate development in communication, social interaction, and behaviour.


What are the symptoms and signs of mental disorders in children?

Children with mental illness may undergo the classic symptoms of their particular disorder but may show other symptoms as well, comprising

  • bad school performance;
  • constant lethargy;
  • frequent headaches and stomachaches;
  • nightmares, sleepwalking, or sleeping too much or too little;
  • bedwetting, throwing tantrums, or becoming clingy;
  • aggressive behaviours; and
  • showing less concern for their safety.


What are the causes of mental disorders in children?

People with these disorders tend to have several biological, psychological, and environmental risk factors that participate in their development. Biologically, mental disorders are linked with abnormal levels of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin or dopamine in the brain, a drop in the size of some areas of the brain, as well as heightened activity in other areas of the brain. Girls are more diagnosed with mood disorders than boys.  Disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorders are more frequently seen in boys. Gender differences in mental disorder are the outcome of, among other things, a mixture of biological differences based on gender, as well as the differences in how girls are taught to infer their environment and react to it compared to boys. 

Children and adolescents with a mentally ill parent are up to four times more probable to acquire such an illness themselves. Teens who acquire a mental disorder are also more likely to have had other biological issues, such as low weight at the time of birth, trouble while sleeping and having a mother aged less than 18 years old at the time of their birth.

Psychological risk factors for mental disorders in children comprise poor self-esteem, bad body image, an inclination to be highly self-critical, and feeling vulnerable when dealing with adverse events. Teen mental disorders are relatively related to the pressure of body changes, comprising the fluctuating hormones of puberty, as well as teen reversal toward increased independence, and with differences in their relationships with parents, peers, and others. Teenagers who experience conduct disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), clinical anxiety, cognitive and learning problems, as well as trouble relating to others, are more likely to develop a mental disorder.

Childhood mental disorder may be a response to trauma such as being the sufferer of verbal, physical, or sexual abuse, the demise of a loved one, school difficulties, or being the sufferer of bullying or peer pressure. Gay teens are at increased risk of suffering from mental disorders such as depression, which is assumed to be because of the bullying by peers and possible rejection by family members. Children in military households are at risk of suffering from depression as well. mental

Other risk factors include nonspecific risk factors such as a past of poverty, exposure to violence, having a hostile peer group, or being socially cut off, abuse victimization, parental dispute, and family dissolution. 

The aforesaid environmental risk factors tend to push individuals to childhood mental disorder.


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