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Mental illness: How to spot the symptoms

Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2019 @ 3:26 PM

More children than ever are struggling with their emotions. New research from last year found more than seven percent of high school kids tried ending their lives. News Center 7's Gabrielle Enright shows us the startling numbers and what is being done to help those at risk.

It can be difficult to determine the difference between mental health issues and expected behaviors sometimes.

On Tuesday, Feb. 19, News Center 7 is looking into mental illnesses and their effects on children. For more details, tune in at 5:30 p.m.

While each mental illness can present itself differently, the National Alliance on Mental Illness listed the following symptoms for adults and adolescents:

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  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confusion or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable highs and feelings of euphoria
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Avoiding friends or social activities
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to others
  • Changes in sleeping habits or being tired and having low energy
  • Changes in eating habits, including lack of appetite or increased hunger
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Difficulty perceiving reality, such as delusions or hallucinations
  • Difficulty perceiving changes in their own feelings
  • Substance abuse, including drugs and alcohol
  • Multiple physical ailments without clear causes, such as headaches, stomach aches and vague and ongoing aches and pains
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
  • Intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance

Mental health issues can also begin to appear in children. According to NAMI, the more obvious symptoms are behavioral because kids are still learning to identify and talk through their emotions. 

Here are some signs of mental illness to look for in children:

  • Changes in school performance
  • Excessive worrying or anxiety, including fighting to avoid going to bed or to school
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Frequent nightmares
  • Frequent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums

Anyone who suspects they have a mental illness should reach out to a health care professional to learn more or get a diagnosis. 

Anyone who needs immediate help or is having suicidal thoughts can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or 911.