5 Common Mental Health Disorders in Children

A recent study to ascertain the particular time majority of the mental health disorders often seen in adults set in, confirms, half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin at age 14. There is always the need for earlier detection of the disorders, because, once they fully set in, they become regular part of your child’s behaviors.

According to the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), emotional and behavioral disorders affect 10-15 percent of children globally. Also, in any given year, about 20% of American children will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder which is severe enough to seriously affect their daily functioning.

Health professionals say the following mental health disorders begin in early childhood, but be assured that their early diagnosis and treatment will surely help children later in life:

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

ADHD, the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder in childhood. Symptoms includes difficulty in concentrating, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Children with ADHD exhibit the symptoms frequently at schools, home, etc. And this may affect the child’s ability to succeed. Fortunately, scientists have proven many ways (medication, therapy, etc.) at least to treat it in order to make children suffering from the disorder able to function properly.


A brain disorder that is characterized by intense alterations in cognition and emotion. Schizophrenia is found among people between the ages of 16 and 25, but can occur as early as eight or nine years.

The mental health disorder causes distorted thoughts i.e. thoughts filled with hallucinations and delusions making one unable to distinguish what is real from what is not (USDHHS, 1999).

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

A life-long neurological condition that is present at birth. ASD affects children’s ability to communicate and interact with others; children with this disorder have mental retardation, language delays and are unable to form emotional connection with other people.

As shared by kidsmentalhealth, parents are to show much concern if their child does not Babble by 11 months of age, use single words by 18 months or 2 word phrases by 24 months and make eye contact when interacting with peers or adults.

Eating disorders

The list contains anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder. According to a U.S report, between 0.5 and 1.0 percent of adolescent and young women suffer from anorexia nervosa, 1 to 3 percent of them have bulimia nervosa, and 0.7 to 4 percent experience binge-eating disorder.

Children battling with eating disorder tend to eat smaller or larger amounts of food; at a point it becomes uncontrollable. The disorders are often accompanied by serious concern about body weight or shape.

Elimination disorders.

Elimination disorders affect behavior that helps in getting rid of body wastes like urine and faeces. Bed-wetting is one of the common elimination disorders.

Anxiety Disorders.

Children with this disorders are known to feel distressed, and easily frightened for no obvious reason. Although, after a stressful play or events, children tend to be worried or be fearful. But, when they are frequently feeling nervous and the state of worry tend to challenge the child’s everyday activities, it then becomes Anxiety Disorder.

Anxiety disorders further include: social phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

Note that, the listed conditions are better handled by medical or psychological treatment.

Sources & Further Reading:
Tamar E. Chansky: 'Freeing Your Child from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Powerful, Practical Program for Parents of Children and Adolescents. 

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

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