Mental health problems can present a little differently in children and young people. Feelings and tricky behaviours can be short lived. Young people have to face a lot of changes and transitions which can set off anxious, angry, tearful or argumentative states. We know teenagers in particular can be very up and down in their mood and behaviours. Children can seem very different in your company compared to with peers and at school. This is all to be expected. So how do you know when to seek more support?
If your child is showing a combination of the following symptoms, over a prolonged period of several weeks, it might be more than the usual emotional ups and downs. If any symptoms are having a significant impact on their life day to day, it is recommended that you explore your concerns more.
- Excessive sleep or difficulty sleeping
- Eating a lot more (comfort eating) or a sudden drop in appetite, significant changes in weight
- Poor concentration or higher than usual distractibility
- Avoidance of particular situations or activities, difficulty trying new things or meeting new people
- Excessive irritability or a shorter ‘fuse’ than usual
- Withdrawal, drop in social interests and activities
- Reduced school performance or increase in challenging behaviour
- Self-harm – look out for unusual clothing choices, covering up on warm days, higher than usual secrecy or need for privacy
- Very high levels of self-criticism
- Excessive pre-occupation with body image, weight or appearance
- Tearfulness, sense of hopelessness or difficulty looking towards the future
- Obsessive or excessive concerns about specific things, accompanied by habitual behaviours or rituals.
- Unusual beliefs or distress about seeing or hearing things others can’t see or hear
These key symptoms may indicate a level of emotional difficulty in your child, particularly if multiple symptoms are evident. If you are concerned, consider seeking support from health care professionals or get in touch for further discussion.
There are helpful sources of information and support for children and parents including: http://www.youngminds.org.uk/for_parents/worried_about_your_child