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Signs of problems and disorders

Recognizing the signs  

All children may experience problems with their mood or behavior from time to time. In some cases, these problems may be a normal part of a child's stage of development. In other cases, behavioral or emotional problems may be understandable reactions to a change in a child's environment or routine, such as sadness after the divorce of parents or the death of someone close to them. 

When a child's problems persist over a long period of time or begin to interfere with relationships, performance at school or everyday living, these may be signs of a mental health disorder. Many people are surprised to learn that mental health problems are relatively common among young people – in fact, they are as common as a fractured limb.  

The path to improved health often begins with a family's awareness of concerning behaviors, which may include: 

  • Overactivity or difficulty paying attention 
  • Anxiety, worry or fear 
  • Sadness and depression 
  • Problems with food or body image 
  • Extreme anger, aggression or defiance 
  • Tendency to use drugs or alcohol 
  • Unusual thoughts or experiences 


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