Children, just like adults, suffer from mental illnesses that disrupt their lives and cause them distress. As a parent, its important to be equipped with the information necessary to detect mental illness in your child and seek help for them. Information about mental illness in children can also help parents protect their children from environments that may cause mental and emotional issues in children.

Below are some of the most common mental illnesses in children:


Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder describes symptoms of inattention, distractability, hyperactivity and poor working memory. This disorder affects a child's learning ability and memory, and may persist into adulthood. Fortunately, ADHD  can be managed with therapy and medication.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder camouflages as mood swings and can easily be dismissed among adolescents who are known to undergo emotional changes. As a result, parents ought to be keen on the extremeness and suddenness of how these episodes happen. With bipolar, a patients have moments of intense happiness which can be medication and therapy.

Social anxiety disorder/ phobia

This is a condition that triggers extreme fear as a result of social interaction. Children with social anxiety tend to avoid situations that involve social interactions and would rather keep to themselves. In some cases children with this disorder may show physical symptoms like trembling and nausea.  Social anxiety disorder is also managed through medication and therapy.

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a disorder in which children have intrusive thoughts that cause distressing emotions such as disgust or anxiety. Kids with  OCD repeat certain activities like cleaning, and washing of hands. Even though these activities are disruptive to their normal life, without them the child might get distressed. Kids with OCD also have a fear of getting contaminated by people or the environment among others. OCD, just like other disorders, is treated by medication and therapy


This is mental health disorder characterised by a persistently melancholic mood and loss of interest in activities, thus impairing daily life. Research suggests that these factors may cause changes in brain function, including altered activity of certain neural circuits in the brain. It may show up in a child in many forms, like irritability, change in mood, sleeping too much, isolation.

ALSO READ: How to support your child's mental health

It is easy to misunderstand a child who is struggling with a mental illness. However, as a parent you could make their life easier by detecting these illnesses and helping them get better as soon as you can. Seek advice from professionals on how best to attend to your child with any of the above challenges.

Featured Image: Psychiatry Advisor

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