The most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children are attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), behavior problems, anxiety, and depression, according to the CDC.
Children with ADHD struggle with attention, impulsive behaviors, hyperactivity, or a combination of these issues as compared to other children their age.
Behavioral problems in children are defined as a pattern of disruptive behaviors that lasts at least 6 months and causes difficulties at school, at home, and in social settings. Almost everyone exhibits some of these behaviors at some point in their lives, but behavior disorders are more severe.
Anxiety disorders impact one in eight children. They are characterized by persistent, irrational, and overwhelming worry, fear, and anxiety that interfere with day-to-day life. Symptoms vary but usually include irritability, trouble sleeping, jitteriness, or physical symptoms, including headaches and stomachaches.
Mood disorders, including depression, are characterized by warped or dysfunctional emotional or intellectual states. This can include chronic feelings of despair, sadness, anger, or any other emotion that interferes with a child’s capacity to function in school, at home, and/or socially.
Other mental health issues (and developmental disorders handled by mental health professionals) in children include:
Autism spectrum disorder is a neurological condition that often presents before the age of three. A child with ASD can have difficulties speaking and connecting with others, regardless of the degree of the illness.
Eating disorders are unhealthy relationships with food and eating. Some signs that a child may have an eating disorder include concern with an ideal body type, disordered thinking about weight and weight loss, or dangerous eating and dieting practices. Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder, can exacerbate or even cause other mental disorders. They can also cause irreparable damage to a child’s body, and can even have fatal physical consequences.
PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder that results from trauma. It can present as emotional discomfort, anxiety, disturbing and unavoidable memories, or nightmares.
Schizophrenia is a sensory and cognitive disorder that causes a person to lose touch with reality (psychosis). Schizophrenia causes hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking and behavior. Children rarely display symptoms of schizophrenia; this behavior begins in a person’s late teens or early twenties.