It has been determined, by medical researchers that half of the long-term reported cases, mental illness most likely began as early as age 14. Although, scientists believe that new discoveries are leaning toward mental illness beginning much earlier than the onset of symptoms.
Early Signs of Mental Illness in Toddlers
While it is important to note that not all behavioral issues are serious, you should familiarize yourself with the early warning signs of mental illness. Some children may exhibit short spans of behavioral issues such as reverting back to their younger years. Differentiating between typical alterations in behavior and serious issues will be your main focus, along with your child’s behavior.
- Suicidal ideations
- Head banging and other self-destructive behavior
- Gloominess and on the verge of tearfulness
- Sudden fear of normal activities, toys, or animals (never exhibited before)
- Alterations is the sleep cycle
- Decreased appetite
- Regressive behavior (returning to infantile or child-like state of bed-wetting)
Is Mental Illness Hereditary
Every child will exhibit changes in their normal behavior, if they are faced with the loss of a parent or grandparent, divorce, or a chronic ill in a parent. While this is a very stressful time for your child, this should give you ample opportunity to see how your child reacts and copes under extreme mental duress. Many short-lived behavioral issues will resolve on their own, without treatment.
There are five different mental disorders that have been linked to genetics. The CACNA1C gene, which is linked to bipolar, schizophrenia, and major depressive disorders show some variations. The CACNB2 gene is linked to all five of the mental disorders including schizophrenia, bipolar, autism, ADHD, and major depressive disorders.
Chromosomes 3 and 10 also showed some variations linked to all five of the major psychiatric syndromes (NIH). So the answer to the above question is “Yes”.
Is Autism a Mental Illness
It is important that every parent realize that each child will react differently to stress and show different signs of mental illness. Toddlers and young children are more difficult to diagnose, since they exhibit different signs than older children and young adults.
Yes, autism spectrum disorder is a mental illness. There are many characterizations of this disorder including:
- Social communication and interactions show persistent deficits
- Restricted, repetitive patterns can be seen in activities, personal interests, and behavioral actions
- Symptoms must be present during the developmental period or first two years of life
- Impairments in social interactions and vocational functioning are visible and caused by the symptoms of autism
Early Signs of Autism Toddlers
The symptoms of autism may vary, so be sure to keep this in mind, when you are trying to determine the cause of your child’s strange behavior. Nearly 80-90% of parents noted signs of autism in their children, before the age of 24-months (CDC).
- Answers questions with unrelated answers
- Minor changes cause major upset
- Rocking, spinning, and flapping body questers
- Exhibits unusual reactions to the 5 senses (touch, taste, see, sound, scent)
- Echolalia (repetitive verbal behavior)
- By the age of 12-months, the child still does not respond to their name
- By the age of 14-months, the child shows not interest in objects
- By the age of 18-months, the child does not participate in “pretend games”
- Isolation behavior
- Avoids eye contact
- Cannot understand verbal or physical exhibitions of emotions
- Delayed language and speech skills
Mental Illness in Babies
Most babies by the age of 12-months will be very observant of people and objects. They will also clap their hands and wave “bye-bye” to their parents and others. Infants with mental illness will not exhibit this normal behavior.
- Hyper-aggressive behavior
- Nightmares and night terrors
- Temper tantrums
- Fear and anxiety
It is important to note that diagnosing an infant can be very challenging, since they may not exhibit any mental illness symptoms.
Why is Mental Health Important
Mental health works alongside physical health to form a very complex interactive relationship. Both of these are essential to your child’s overall health. For example, if a child is unhealthy and overweight, he will suffer from low-esteem, this will affect his emotional, cognitive, and social developmental skill. A healthy child with an average weight will live a happy, social life and thrive in every developmental skill.