While children’s mental disorders continues to take its toll on American children, it can effectively be treated with proper medication and psychotherapy, if diagnosed early. It has been estimated that 13-20% (1-5) of children that reside within the United States has experienced symptoms of a mental disorder, in a given year (CDC). Some children may be asymptomatic, which makes it difficult for parents to catch onto their condition, but others will exhibit odd behavior that is linked to a mental disorder.
Mental Illness Statistics
It was reported in Texas alone from 2004-2010 that the most common hospitalized diagnoses was mental illness in children between the age group of 10-14. While adolescents between the ages of 15-17, the most common hospitalized diagnoses was birth and pregnancy.
Boys have been reported to receiving more prescription antipsychotics than females. It is crucial that parents begin to monitor their child’s behavior and familiarize themselves with the warning signs of mental illness, so their children can be treated appropriately and quickly. There are also many risk factors that are associated to these conditions, but it is up to parents, educators, and communities to see that these children get proper treatment.
Mental Illness Definition
Mental illnesses are defined as a dysregulation of the mood, behavior and thought process. Major depression has been classified as a mental illness, which is characterized, when an individual experiences sadness and disinterest in previous enjoyed activities for more than 2 or more weeks.
Types of Mental Illness
There are many different types of mental disorders including:
- Anxiety (3.0% of American children between 3-17)
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (6.8% of American children between 3-17)
- Depression (2.1% of American children between 3-17)
- Bipolar (manic-depressive) and Psychotic (schizophrenia)
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s
- Autism Spectrum (1.1% of children 3-17)
Most mental illness seem to worsen, as the child ages, Tourette is not in this category. ADHA is more prevalent in children between the ages of 3-17, while autism is higher in children between 6-11. Adolescent boys between the ages of 12-17 are more than likely to commit suicide that girls, within this age range, but girls are more apt to have depression and alcohol abuse.
Early Signs of Mental Illness
While it is crucial to monitor your child’s behavior, it is more important to educate yourself on the signs of mental illness in children. Most signs do not appear in children, until they reach the age of 14, but it has been scientifically determined that mental illness begins at a much earlier age.
- Behavior problems across the board (school, home, and peer relationships)
- Decreased/Increased appetite
- Alterations in sleep pattern
- Isolating oneself
- Bed wetting
- Sadness and tearfulness
- Head banging and verbal threats of hurting oneself
- Intermittent or repeated thoughts of death
- Verbal cues of suicidal ideations
British scientists have discovered that the DISC-1 gene may determine, whether or not a newborn will be inflicted with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses at some point in their life. The idea is to detect these faulty or impaired genes, when the child is 2-3 days old and halt the illness in its tracks. While many are still skeptical about the Cardiff study, it will remain to be seen, whether it will benefit humans.
Drug Abuse In Children and Teenagers
2005-2010 children and adolescents between the age of 12-17 have been known to experiment, intermittently, or frequently use illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco cigarettes.
- Cigarette dependence with the last 30 days 2.8%
- Alcohol disorder in the past year 4.2%
- Illicit drug disorder in the past year 4.7%
In 2010, suicide with the second leading cause of death in children and adolescents between the ages of 12-17.