13 Early Signs Your Child May Develop Mental Illness

A parent’s primary concern is always to raise a healthy and happy child. When they begin to show signs of being anything other than well, it can be difficult to know what to do or how to act. Parenting is a complicated process for anyone. It’s a constant learning curve, and new situations arise each day. That’s why it’s important to know which signs in children are worrying, and may indicate early signs of mental illness.

Unlike a flesh wound, a mental illness can only be identified by random symptoms. Even then, the symptoms may pass, or may just reflect on a child’s personality. Some signs are more evident than others, but it’s important to treat each one as equally important. One in five children now display symptoms of a behavioral disorder, so there’s no need to feel like you’re alone on this one. Here are some of the signs to look out for.

1. Your child is struggling to learn at school

Whether they’re acting up in class to disrupt their learning, or they’re not progressing no matter how hard they try, a child struggling in school can be a sign of mental illness.

2. Your child is bullying other children

When a child is learning a sense of right and wrong, there will, of course, be some slip-ups along the way. However, persistent antisocial behavior aimed at their peers is a sign something could be up.

3. Your child has participated in self-harm

Self-destructive behavior such as self-harm is particularly worrying in a child, especially if the incident has happened multiple times. Ensure to consult a doctor if your child is trying to hurt themselves.

4. Your child refuses to engage with friends and family

A child cutting themselves off from family or friends can be an early sign of autism, notably if they’ve declined to connect from the very start.

5. Your child varies a lot in their moods

One minute they’re happily playing, another they have a screaming match. If your child’s temperament varies a lot, it could mean they’re suffering from a mental health issue.

6. Your child experiences intense emotions

A mood is never merely calm or stable. If your child experiences a lot of anger, for example, your child might be suffering from a disorder.

7. Your child never has any energy

Lethargy is never a good sign in a child and can be counted as a depressive symptom. If your child is always low on energy, have them checked out at a doctor’s.

8. Your child can’t concentrate for very long

While in school or doing their homework, your child may struggle to focus on the task at hand. This can be indicative of ADHD or dyslexia and should be examined as early as possible.

9. Your child suffers from intense nightmares and sleep issues

Dreams for children can be very traumatic, and when they’re not sleeping well, it affects the rest of their day-to-day life. Ensure to seek help if your child has recurring sleep problems.

10. Your child often complains of physical issues

Physical issues can relate to a lot of mental health problems, so kill two birds with one stone and investigate the causes of the issues.

11. Your child never grooms themselves

If your child neglects to keep themselves clean, brushing their hair or teeth, and never takes an interest in their appearance, it can be a sign of depressive states to come.

12. Your child obsesses over weight and appearance

Anorexia is very common in young people, and early signs of this mental illness can be a child’s obsession with appearance.

13. Your child’s eating pattern has changed drastically

If your child has suddenly changed their eating pattern, it can be a sign of anxiety or depression. Binge eating, in particular, can be a problematic symptom and can lead to further issues, so make sure you get your child to a doctor.

It’s impossible to self-diagnose your child if you’re not trained in psychology. It’s easy to jump to conclusions about what’s happening to your child, but the best – and only! – Way to gain the answers you need is a trained professional. If you see a warning sign, don’t wait. Catching a mental illness early on can save lives, and get your child back on the road to recovery without long-lasting consequences.

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Hayley Anderton

Hayley Anderton is a Creative Writing graduate from Liverpool. She’s a freelance writer and the self-published novelist of the LGBT YA book, Double Bluff. She doesn’t go anywhere without a notepad and has been writing ever since she can remember. Her other interests include baking, talking about politics and feminism, and snuggling up with her cat. She has dreams of traveling the world with her best friends, and of being a well-known author someday.

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