Mental Illness in Children
About 20% of American children suffer from a diagnosable mental illness during a given year, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. Further, nearly 5 million American children and adolescents suffer from a serious mental illness (one that significantly interferes with their day-to-day life).
Which Mental Illnesses Are Most Common in Children?
Children can suffer from the following mental illnesses:
- Anxiety disorders: Children with anxiety disorders respond to certain things or situations with fear and dread, as well as with physical signs of anxiety (nervousness), such as a rapid heartbeat and sweating.
- Disruptive behavior disorders: Children with these disorders tend to defy rules and often are disruptive in structured environments, such as school.
- Pervasive development disorders: Children with these disorders are confused in their thinking and generally have problems understanding the world around them.
- Eating disorders: Eating disorders involve intense emotions and attitudes, as well as unusual behaviors, associated with weight and/or food.
- Elimination disorders: These disorders affect behavior related to the elimination of body wastes (feces and urine).
- Affective (mood) disorders: These disorders involve persistent feelings of sadness and/or rapidly changing moods.
- Schizophrenia: This is a serious disorder that involves distorted perceptions and thoughts.
- Tic disorders: These disorders cause a person to perform repeated, sudden, involuntary and often meaningless movements and sounds, called tics.
Some of these illnesses, such as anxiety disorders, eating disorders, mood disorders and schizophrenia, can occur in adults as well as children. Others, such as behavior and development disorders, elimination disorders, and learning and communication disorders, begin in childhood only, although they can continue into adulthood. In rare cases, tic disorders can develop in adults. It is not unusual for a child to have more than one disorder.
Reviewed on 2/20/2012
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