Knowing When to Seek Treatment

Knowing When to Seek Treatment for Mental Health Disorders

Knowing when to seek treatment for mental health disorders is important for parents and families. Many times, families, spouses, teachers, or friends are the first to suspect that their loved one or student is challenged by feelings, behaviors, and/or environmental conditions that cause them to act disruptive, rebellious, or sad. This may include, but is not limited to, problems with relationships with friends or family members, work, school, sleeping, eating, substance abuse, emotional expression, development, coping, attentiveness, and responsiveness. It’s also important to know that people of different ages will show different symptoms and behaviors. Familiarizing yourself with the common behaviors of children, teens, and adults that make it hard for them to adapt to situations will often help to identify any problems early when they can be treated. It’s important for families who suspect a problem in one, or more, of these areas to seek treatment as soon as possible. Treatment for mental health disorders is available and usually effective.

What are the symptoms of a potential problem in a young child?

These are the most common symptoms of a potential emotional, behavioral, or developmental problem in the younger child. However, each child may have different symptoms. Symptoms may include:

  • Significant decline in school performance or poor grades (even though the child studies and tries hard to succeed)

  • Withdrawal from activities, friends, family

  • Sleep disturbances (like sleep terrors, nightmares, insomnia, or hypersomnia)

  • Hyperactivity

  • Continuous or frequent aggression or “acting out” (for periods longer than 6 months)

  • Continuous or frequent rebellion; opposition to authority and direction (for periods longer than 6 months)

  • Refusal to attend school on a regular or frequent basis

  • Refusal to take part in school or family activities

  • Excessive worry or anxiety

  • Excessive, regular temper tantrums (without explanation)

The symptoms of a potential emotional, behavioral, or developmental problem may look like other conditions. Always talk with your child’s healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

What are the symptoms of a potential problem in a teen?

These are the most common symptoms of a potential emotional, behavioral, or developmental problem in the older, adolescent child, which makes a psychiatric evaluation necessary. However, each teen may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Significant decline in school performance or poor grades (even though the adolescent studies and tries hard to succeed)

  • Social withdrawal from activities, friends, and/or family

  • Concern expressed by teachers, friend, or family about teen’s behavior

  • Substance (alcohol and drugs) abuse

  • Sleep disturbances (like persistent night terrors, nightmares, insomnia, or hypersomnia)

  • Depression (poor mood, negativity, mood swings)

  • Appetite changes (like refusal to eat, excessive eating, food rituals, bingeing, or purging)

  • Continuous or frequent aggression or “acting out” (for periods longer than 6 months)

  • Continuous or frequent rebellion; opposition to authority and direction (for periods longer than 6 months)

  • Continuous or frequent anger (for periods longer than 6 months)

  • Skipping school

  • Refusal to take part in school, family, sport, and/or social activities

  • Excessive worry and/or anxiety

  • Self-injurious behaviors

  • Threats to self or others

  • Thoughts of death

  • Thoughts or talk of suicide

  • Running away or threatening to run away

  • Destructive behaviors (like vandalism, or criminal activity)

  • Sexually “acting out”

  • Lying or cheating

  • Many physical complaints

The symptoms of a potential emotional, behavioral, or developmental problem may look like other conditions. Always talk with your teen’s healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

What are the symptoms of a potential problem in an adult?

These are the most common symptoms of a potential emotional, behavioral, or developmental problem in an adult. However, each person may have different symptoms. Symptoms may include:

  • Significant decline in work performance, poor work attendance, or lack of productivity

  • Social withdrawal from activities, friends, or family

  • Substance (alcohol and drugs) abuse

  • Sleep disturbances (like persistent nightmares, insomnia, hypersomnia, or flashbacks)

  • Depression (poor mood, negativity, or mood swings)

  • Appetite changes (like significant weight gain or loss)

  • Continuous or frequent aggression

  • Continuous or frequent anger (for periods longer than 6 months)

  • Excessive worry or anxiety

  • Threats to self or others

  • Thoughts of death

  • Thoughts or talk of suicide

  • Destructive behaviors (like criminal activity, or stealing)

  • Sexually “acting out”

  • Lying or cheating

  • Many physical complaints, including being constantly tense or frequent aches and pains that can’t be traced to a physical cause or injury

  • Sudden feelings of panic, dizziness, or increased heartbeat

  • Increased feelings of guilt, helplessness, or hopelessness

  • Decreased energy

The symptoms of a potential emotional, behavioral, or developmental problem may look like other conditions. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.