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When you think of depression, anxiety and Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you wouldn’t expect a child to have them, right? Well, they can affect children and babies too!
Research suggests that some of these emotions are naturally occurring. Babies can feel interest, distress, disgust and happiness since birth and they can communicate these emotions through their facial expressions and body posture.
Of course, through the Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory, their environment still influences their emotional and social development a lot.
Here are some mental health issues children can also experience as well as their symptoms:
If you see a child being particularly sad for a long time or losing interest in things generally to the point where it disrupts their ability to function in school and interact with others, they might be having depression.
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If a child seems to be constantly worried, breaking down or crying easily, or always afraid of something, then perhaps they have anxiety or even obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
If the child suddenly has increased heartrate, a sudden intense feeling of fear or doom, have trouble breathing and is feeling dizzy or shaky, they are most likely having a panic attack.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
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Children with PTSD are usually exposed to violence, abuse, injury or traumatic events, which cause prolonged emotional distress, anxiety, distressing memories, nightmares and disruptive behaviours. This disorder is often coupled with anxiety too.
Besides that, they may show certain affixation with words, which may or may not be related to the trauma, and they might also repeat themes of the trauma.
Being obsessed with a certain body type is an eating disorder as it leads to extreme diets. Some types of Eating Disorders include:
- Anorexia Nervosa—thinking they are overweight when they’re not
- Bulimia—vomiting out what they’ve eaten out of fear of gaining weight
- Binge eating disorder—overeating in a short amount of time
- Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder—avoid eating certain things because they fear tummy aches or falling sick
- Pica—eating non-food or non-nutritional substances such as dirt, chalk, hair, etc.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
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Some important things to take note of ADHD behaviour is being inattentive and/or being very hyperactive and impulsive.
Inattentiveness includes not paying close attention to details, having problems with listening even when spoken to directly, being disorganised, having difficulties with following instructions and more.
Hyperactive and impulsive symptoms would include being fidgety, finding it difficult to sit quietly in class, running and climbing when it’s not an appropriate time, talking too much, interrupting others, etc.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
The severity of ASD varies but the common symptoms of children with this disorder are having difficulties with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication. You can tell by the time they’re 2 or 3 years old.
They may either be highly intelligent and have great problem-solving abilities, or they may be very challenged in this aspect.
Often, they may also suffer from other medical or mental issues such as gastrointestinal disorders, seizures or sleep disorders, anxiety, depression and attention issues.
Get help! There are very affordable options too…
If you believe a loved one or even if you are suffering from some form of mental health issue, it’s important to seek professional help.
Untreated mental health issues have serious consequences. It can stump growth both in the mental and physical aspect, and it can also incite other health issues as well such as body aches and pains, increased chances of heart attack and stroke, and many more.
If you can’t afford private care, you can always visit psychiatrists at your nearest government hospital. If you’re unsure, you can visit your General Practitioner (local clinic) and get a referral letter.
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You can also seek help online! There are multiple platforms and apps available where you can speak to psychologists or counsellors. Some of them include Malaysian Mental Health Association, Naluri, SOLS Health and Agape Counselling Centre Malaysia.
There are many other experts and organisations that you can seek help from. If you know of others, feel free to share them in the comment section. You could help save lives.