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A recent study released in JAMA Pediatrics estimated that 7.7 million children, roughly 16.5 percent nationwide, have at least one mental health disorder. Unfortunately, the number of youth experiencing mental health disorders is currently on the rise.
Mental health issues do not discriminate when it comes to age. This means it can affect prepubescent children as well as our teenagers. Teenagers, however, are somewhat more vulnerable to this concerning health issue. Even in healthy children, puberty is a time of massive change. Hormonal changes, physical changes, sexual changes, and social changes can all combine to create mood swings and other upsetting symptoms. It can be challenging for parents of teens to differentiate between the typical moodiness of puberty and mental health conditions that require professional attention.
No matter their age, if you are wondering about the source of your child's behaviors, we encourage you to contact your pediatrician to discuss your concerns. Identifying mental disorders and treating them in children can be very tricky, but we at Capital Area Pediatrics are prepared to help you and your child. We are more than happy to assist with making a diagnosis; with providing care for common mental health conditions; with making a referral to specialists as needed; and with basic medication management. To schedule an appointment with a CAP pediatrician and begin this important conversation with our team, find your nearest location and contact us today.
Anxiety and depression are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following stats for each disorder:
Anxiety disorders are complex. Unlike normal anxiety - which everyone experiences - clinical anxiety does not go away and can worsen with time. As a result, it can interfere with daily functions (i.e. chores, school, etc.).
Anxiety presents itself in many different ways in children, some that are not always easily recognizable. Many parents find it helpful to look for anxiety by monitoring for negative behaviors that are becoming consistent and intense. These behaviors and symptoms include:
Depression is characterized by a persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities. Depression is a mood disorder, and is therefore very different from a normal period of feeling sad. Its symptoms cause significant impairments in daily life. Examples of behaviors often seen when children are depressed include:
For parents, one of the hardest things they will ever do is try to differentiate between their children’s emotions, and the potential symptoms of a mental health disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, parents should seek help:
Treatment will be heavily dependent on a final diagnosis, as well as on the child’s environment. In general, however, treatment recommendations can include:
Capital Area Pediatrics offers a variety of entry points and services to families struggling with and concerned about pediatric mental health disorders: