School-age child

How to recognize a mental disorder in a child?


Times when mental disorders they were taboo, they are now forgotten and although we are still far from the openness of Western societies, in Poland for several years now more and more attention is paid to mental health. Notably more often, children suffering from mental disorders are surrounded by psychological and psychiatric care. This is an extremely difficult but important step for both young patients and their parents, but the benefits of intervention in the early stages of the disease are certainly worth all the effort. Today we want to introduce you to the topic of mental disorders in children, in particular focusing on symptoms that may be evidence of them and for further action. We hope that after reading this article, every parent will understand the importance of their health and mental comfort for the future of the child and will know how to best help their child.

What are mental disorders?

Mental disorders are a sign irregularities or lack of integration between mental processes and reality.Mental disorders can be traditionally divided into:

  • psychotic disorders (psychoses) - that is, the states in which the patient experiences delusions, hallucinations, disturbances of consciousness, disorders of emotions, thinking and activity,
  • neurotic disorders - involving obsessions and phobias,
  • psychosomatic disorders - related to other symptoms, e.g. pain,
  • Personality disorder - related to difficulties in social functioning and inconsistency of behavior,
  • sexual deviations (parishes) - sexual dysfunction depending on the appearance of specific objects,
  • addiction - including alcohol, pain, medicine.

Psychiatry deals with the subject of mental disorders - in the case of children it is child psychiatry.

The first signs of mental disorder

Mental disorders are a very heterogeneous group, therefore they can manifest themselves very differently. One of the most common signs of disorders in children areDifficulties in making contact with peers. Children often cannot cope and find themselves in new situations, especially when they are surrounded by unknown people. They can then stay out of the way and alienate themselves, locking themselves more and more in their world.

Another symptom of mental disorders may be inadequate behavior e.g. inexplicable laughter or crying.

Alsohyperactivity or lethargy may be signs of mental disorder, ADHD and depression, respectively. A worrying phenomenon for parents should also be situations where a child informs about some persons or events that only it sees and which cannot be rationally explained. An extremely dangerous symptom in children is also both verbal and physical aggression, especially if it is directed at specific people or at yourself. In this case, causing pain or dangerous behavior should be immediately consulted with a specialist. The same applies to attempted suicide attempts, which are a direct threat to life and should be diagnosed and monitored in a hospital setting.

The listed symptoms are only a fragment of the ways in which mental disorders may manifest themselves, therefore the key to their diagnosis should be watch your kids closely.

each a worrying change in a child's behavior should be a signal for the parent to start observing and looking for the reasons.Sometimes, talking to an educator or school educator can also highlight the situation and help you decide what to do next.

Correct diagnosis - the first step to success

When the behavior of a toddler or teenager begins to arouse anxiety in parents, it should be take appropriate steps and consult a specialist.

They deal with both mental illnesses and disorders psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists, but each of them has a different role and qualifications. It should be remembered that accurate diagnosis requires a lot of time, patience and commitment on all sides - the child, parent and doctor. You must also be prepared for the fact that not everything can be done during the first visit. Sometimes a child needs to gain trust, certain circumstances need to change, or simply need to find a thread of understanding with a small patient. No matter what it belongs, however keep calm and show patience - this will certainly encourage everyone to cooperate.

The first stage in the diagnosis of mental disorders should be visit to a psychiatristwho is tasked to gather credible medical history and conduct a thorough examination, on the basis of which he will be able to make the correct diagnosis. In many cases, psychiatric consultation is supplemented with an examination and conversation with a psychologist. During them, the psychologist gets to know the child's personality, as well as his reactions and possibilities.

Depending on the diagnosis, further stages may be different: from drug treatment to various types of psychotherapy. When referring to a psychotherapist for help, it is worth making sure that we are dealing with a person with appropriate education, who is aware of the diseases and disorders he is dealing with, because sometimes psychotherapists are people completely unrelated to psychology, who do not have a proper work methodology and instead of helping, they can only worsen the situation.

Support your child no matter what

The entire diagnostic and therapeutic process, combined with concomitant disorders, can be extremely traumatic for a child, which is why it must receive appropriate support during its course. Although parents do not always have such good contact with their children as they would like, the most important thing is to the child felt simply safe in their company.Show extraordinary dose patience and gentleness,because it is this attitude that will give the child a sense of stability.

Try not to annoy the toddler and do not shout at him, because it can only worsen his condition and all the progress achieved so far will be wasted. Give him a little warmth and closeness and you will see that it will definitely bring good results.

Mental disorders occurring in children contrary to appearances, they are not uncommon, and a quick response is extremely important in their case. Proper diagnostics and therapy of disorders at the right time will protect the child from their aggravation and future problems. Let's remember that health is the most important - also mental!Based on: Psychiatria - GaƂecki P., Szulc A., Psychiatry - Marek Jarema