Warning signs that your child might have a mental health condition include:
• Mood changes. Look for feelings of sadness or withdrawal that last at least two weeks or severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships at home or school.
• Intense feelings. Be aware of feelings of overwhelming fear for no reason — sometimes with a racing heart or fast breathing — or worries or fears intense enough to interfere with daily activities.
• Behavior changes. These includes drastic changes in behavior or personality, as well as dangerous or out-of-control behavior. Fighting frequently, using weapons and expressing a desire to badly hurt others also are warning signs.
• Difficulty concentrating. Look for signs of trouble focusing or sitting still, both of which might lead to poor performance in school.
• Unexplained weight loss. A sudden loss of appetite, frequent vomiting or use of laxatives might indicate an eating disorder.
• Physical symptoms. Compared with adults, children with a mental health condition may develop headaches and stomachaches rather than sadness or anxiety.
• Physical harm. Sometimes a mental health condition leads to self-injury, also called self-harm. This is the act of deliberately harming your own body, such as cutting or burning yourself. Children with a mental health condition also may develop suicidal thoughts or actually attempt suicide.
• Substance abuse. Some kids use drugs or alcohol to try to cope with their feelings.