Child Mental Disorders List: 10 Types of Mental Disorders

Reducing stigma, promoting awareness, and using person-first language can help break down barriers to mental health care for children.
Child Mental Disorders List: 10 Types of Mental Disorders

Mental disorders are not just limited to adults, they can also affect children. Mental health disorders in children often go unnoticed, making it difficult to treat the condition at an early stage. As a parent, it is important to understand the symptoms and signs of mental illness in children. In this article, we will provide an in-depth list of child mental disorders, their symptoms, and treatment options.

What are Child Mental Disorders?

Child mental disorders are conditions that affect a child's emotions, behavior, and thinking. These disorders can impact a child's life in many ways, including academic performance, social interaction, and overall well-being. It is estimated that 1 in 6 children in the United States has a mental disorder, and half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by the age of 14.

List of Child Mental Disorders

When children experience serious changes in the way they learn, behave, or handle their emotions, it can be a sign of a mental disorder. These changes can cause distress and make it difficult for children to get through the day. Here's a list of mental disorders that can affect children:

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Free photo boy giving a scare

ADHD is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that affects children's behavior and attention. It is often diagnosed in childhood, but can persist into adulthood. Children with ADHD have difficulty focusing, sitting still, and controlling their impulses, which can lead to problems in school, at home, and in social situations.

The symptoms of ADHD can be grouped into two categories: inattentiveness and hyperactivity-impulsivity.

A child with inattentive symptoms may:

  • Have trouble paying attention to details
  • Have difficulty following instructions
  • Struggle with organizing tasks
  • Have difficulty completing assignments
  • Frequently lose things
  • Be forgetful
  • Get easily distracted
  • Seem absent-minded.

A child with hyperactive-impulsive symptoms may have trouble sitting still, fidgeting, talking excessively, interrupting others, and waiting their turn. They may also struggle to engage in quiet activities, like reading or drawing.

Children with ADHD may also experience other related problems such as difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and mood swings. It is important to note that every child with ADHD is unique and may experience different symptoms or severity of symptoms.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects a child's social communication and interaction, as well as their behavior and interests. ASD is a spectrum disorder, which means that it affects individuals in different ways and to varying degrees.

Some common symptoms of ASD include difficulty with social interaction, communication, and behavior.

Children with ASD may have trouble with:

  • Verbal and nonverbal communication, such as making eye contact, understanding gestures, or interpreting facial expressions.
  • Social interaction, such as forming friendships, sharing experiences, or engaging in imaginative play.

Children with ASD may also display repetitive behaviors or have intensely focused interests. They may have a strong preference for routine or sameness, and become upset when their routine is disrupted. They may also engage in repetitive movements or actions, such as rocking back and forth or flapping their hands.

Other symptoms of ASD can include:

  • Delayed speech development
  • Clumsiness or poor coordination
  • Sensory sensitivities (such as being bothered by certain sounds or textures)
  • Difficulty with transitions or changes in routine.

ASD can impact a child's academic performance, socialization, and daily living skills. If you suspect your child has ASD, it is important to seek a professional evaluation from a healthcare provider. With the right treatment and support, children with ASD can learn to manage their symptoms and thrive in school and beyond.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health disorders that cause excessive fear, worry, and nervousness. These disorders can affect a child's daily life, including school performance, social interaction, and overall well-being.

There are several types of anxiety disorders that can affect children, including:

  • Panic disorder: when a child experiences panic attacks, which are sudden episodes of intense fear or discomfort that reach a peak within minutes.
  • Social anxiety disorder: when a child feels intense fear or discomfort in social situations or when performing in front of others.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder: when a child experiences excessive anxiety or worry about a variety of everyday problems or activities.
  • Separation anxiety disorder: when a child experiences excessive anxiety about being separated from their caregiver.

Symptoms of anxiety disorders can vary depending on the type of disorder, but may include:

  • Excessive worry or fear about upcoming events or situations
  • Avoidance of certain places or activities
  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or muscle tension
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions

Bipolar Disorders

Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that causes extreme shifts in a child's mood, energy, and activity levels. Children with bipolar disorder may experience periods of intense happiness and excitement, known as mania or hypomania, followed by periods of extreme sadness and hopelessness, known as depression.

Symptoms of mania or hypomania in children may include:

  • Feeling extremely happy or excited
  • Having lots of energy and feeling restless
  • Talking fast or jumping from one idea to another
  • Engaging in risky behaviors such as substance abuse, reckless driving or spending sprees
  • Feeling invincible or powerful

Symptoms of depression in children may include:

  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Losing interest in activities they once enjoyed
  • Feeling fatigued or lacking energy
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Bipolar disorder can impact a child's academic performance, socialization, and daily living skills. If you suspect your child has bipolar disorder, it is important to seek a professional evaluation from a healthcare provider. Treatment for bipolar disorder in children often involves a combination of medication and therapy to help manage symptoms and improve overall well-being.

Conduct Disorder (CD)

Free photo cry. angry screaming teen girl on blue. facial expressions and people emotions concept

Conduct Disorder (CD) is a mental health disorder that causes children to engage in behaviors that violate the rights of others or defy societal norms. Children with CD may engage in aggressive behavior, such as bullying, fighting, or threatening others. They may also lie or steal, destroy property, and skip school or run away from home.

Symptoms of conduct disorder in children may include:

  • Aggressive behavior towards people or animals
  • Bullying or intimidating others
  • Ignoring rules or authority figures
  • Lying or stealing
  • Destroying property
  • Skipping school or running away from home
  • Engaging in criminal behavior

CD can impact a child's academic performance, socialization, and daily living skills. If you suspect your child has CD, it is important to seek a professional evaluation from a healthcare provider. While there is no cure for CD, treatment can help manage symptoms and improve overall well-being. Treatment for CD often involves therapy to help children learn new coping skills and strategies for managing their behavior. In severe cases, medication may also be prescribed.

Depression

Depression is a mental health disorder that affects a child's emotions, thoughts, and behavior. Children with depression may experience persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed. They may also struggle with low self-esteem, poor concentration, and difficulty making decisions.

Symptoms of depression in children may include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Depression can impact a child's academic performance, socialization, and daily living skills. If left untreated, depression can lead to more serious health problems, such as substance abuse or suicidal thoughts.

Fortunately, depression is treatable. Treatment often involves therapy to help children develop coping skills and strategies for managing their mood. In some cases, medication may also be prescribed. It is important to seek a professional evaluation from a healthcare provider if you suspect your child has depression. With proper treatment and support, children with depression can lead happy and productive lives.

Eating Disorders

Free photo front view tired boy trying to eat his cereals

Eating disorders are a group of mental health conditions that affect a child's relationship with food and their body image. These disorders can include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. Children with eating disorders may have an unhealthy preoccupation with their weight, engage in restrictive eating patterns, or engage in purging behaviors.

Symptoms of eating disorders in children may include:

  • Dramatic weight loss or fluctuations in weight
  • Obsessive thoughts about food, weight, or body shape
  • Refusal to eat certain foods or entire food groups
  • Secretive or ritualistic eating behaviors
  • Excessive exercise or physical activity
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom after meals
  • Low self-esteem or distorted body image
  • Social withdrawal or avoidance of social situations involving food

Eating disorders can impact a child's physical health, academic performance, and socialization. If left untreated, these disorders can lead to serious medical complications, such as heart problems, electrolyte imbalances, and malnutrition.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that causes unwanted thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Children with OCD may experience persistent, intrusive thoughts or images that cause anxiety, fear, or distress. They may also feel compelled to perform repetitive behaviors or rituals, such as hand-washing, checking, or counting, to alleviate their anxiety.

Symptoms of OCD in children may include:

  • Intrusive thoughts or images that are distressing or disturbing
  • Extreme anxiety or fear related to specific thoughts or situations
  • Repetitive behaviors or rituals that are time-consuming or interfere with daily activities
  • Avoidance of situations or objects that trigger anxiety
  • Preoccupation with orderliness, symmetry, or perfectionism
  • Difficulty making decisions or completing tasks due to indecisiveness or uncertainty
  • Emotional reactions such as guilt, shame, or disgust related to obsessions or compulsions

OCD can seriously affect a child's ability to do well in school, make friends, and take care of themselves. If it's not treated, OCD can even lead to more serious health problems, like depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and thoughts of suicide.

Related: OCD Statistics, Facts & Prevalence

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that can develop after a child experiences a traumatic event. Traumatic events can include physical or sexual abuse, witnessing violence, natural disasters, or serious accidents. Children with PTSD may experience intense and persistent symptoms that interfere with their daily lives.

Symptoms of PTSD in children may include:

  • Intrusive memories or flashbacks of the traumatic event
  • Nightmares or sleep disturbances related to the trauma
  • Avoidance of people, places, or activities that trigger memories of the trauma
  • Negative thoughts or feelings, such as guilt, shame, or self-blame
  • Hypervigilance or increased anxiety related to safety or danger
  • Changes in mood or behavior, such as irritability, aggression, or detachment from others
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or other unexplained pains

PTSD can affect a child's ability to do well in school, make friends, and complete daily activities. If not treated, PTSD can lead to more severe health issues like depression, drug abuse, and suicidal thoughts.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a mental health disorder that causes children to have a persistent pattern of angry, irritable, and defiant behavior. Children with ODD may be argumentative, hostile, and disobedient toward authority figures, such as parents, teachers, or other adults in positions of power.

Symptoms of ODD in children may include:

  • Frequent temper tantrums or outbursts of anger
  • Arguing with adults or refusing to comply with rules or requests
  • Blaming others for their mistakes or misbehavior
  • Being easily annoyed or angered by others
  • Deliberately annoying or provoking others
  • Being spiteful or vindictive toward others
  • Having frequent conflicts with peers or adults

ODD, or Oppositional Defiant Disorder, can impact a child's ability to perform well in school, make friends, and carry out daily tasks. Without treatment, ODD can lead to more serious health issues such as conduct disorder or substance abuse.

Tourette Syndrome

Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. Tics can range from mild to severe and can be simple or complex in nature. Simple tics may include eye blinking, facial grimacing, or shoulder shrugging, while complex tics may include jumping, twirling, or repeating words or phrases.

Symptoms of Tourette Syndrome in children may include:

  • Simple or complex motor tics, such as eye blinking, facial grimacing, or shoulder shrugging
  • Simple or complex vocal tics, such as grunting, throat clearing, or repeating words or phrases
  • Multiple tics that occur many times a day
  • Tics that wax and wane in frequency and severity
  • Premonitory sensations or urges that precede the tics
  • Behavioral problems such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, and obsessive-compulsive behavior
  • Social difficulties due to embarrassment or teasing by peers

Tourette Syndrome can affect a child's ability to learn, make friends, and perform everyday tasks. Ignoring it can lead to more serious issues, like depression or anxiety.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a child thinks, feels, and behaves. It is a complex disorder that can be difficult to diagnose in children, but early intervention is crucial for improving outcomes.

Symptoms of schizophrenia in children may include:

  • Hallucinations, or hearing or seeing things that aren't there
  • Delusions, or false beliefs that are not based in reality
  • Disorganized thinking or speech, such as jumping between unrelated topics or making up words
  • Abnormal behaviors, such as pacing, rocking back and forth, or repeating movements
  • Lack of motivation or interest in socializing with peers
  • Social withdrawal or isolation from family and friends
  • Inability to express emotions or inappropriate emotional responses

Schizophrenia can affect a child's ability to perform well in school, socialize with others, and manage their daily life. If left untreated, it can lead to more severe health problems, such as depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse.

How to Identify Early Signs of Child Mental Disorders

Identifying early signs of mental disorders in children is crucial for early intervention and treatment. Parents, caregivers, and teachers can play a key role in recognizing the warning signs of mental health problems in children.

Here are some things to look out for:

  • Changes in mood or behavior that last for more than a few weeks
  • Difficulty sleeping, eating, or concentrating
  • Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed
  • Frequent physical complaints such as headaches or stomachaches
  • Avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
  • Unexplained changes in academic performance
  • Increased irritability or aggression
  • Excessive worry or fearfulness

It is important to keep in mind that not all children will exhibit the same symptoms, and some may show no outward signs at all. However, if you have concerns about your child's mental health, it is always best to seek professional evaluation from a healthcare provider. They can help determine whether your child's symptoms are indicative of a mental disorder and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Common Myths and Misconceptions About Child Mental Disorders

There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding child mental disorders that can lead to misunderstanding, stigma, and delayed treatment. Here are some common myths and the facts that debunk them:

Myth: Mental disorders in children are rare.

Fact: Mental disorders in children are more common than you might think. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 1 in 6 U.S. children aged 2-8 years old has a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder.

Myth: Children with mental disorders are just "bad" or "difficult" kids.

Fact: Children with mental disorders are not bad or difficult kids. Their behaviors and symptoms are often beyond their control and can be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, genetic factors, environmental stressors, or other underlying issues.

Myth: Children will grow out of their mental disorder.

Fact: While it is true that some children may experience improvement or remission of their symptoms over time, many children with mental disorders require ongoing treatment and support throughout their lives. Early intervention is crucial for improving outcomes and increasing the likelihood of recovery.

Myth: Medication is always necessary for treating child mental disorders.

Fact: While medication can be an effective part of treatment for some children with mental disorders, it is not always necessary or appropriate. Therapy and other non-pharmacological interventions may be equally effective in managing symptoms and improving overall well-being.

Myth: Parents cause their child's mental disorder through poor parenting or neglect.

Fact: Parents do not cause their child's mental disorder through poor parenting or neglect. Mental disorders are complex conditions that can have multiple causes, including genetics, brain chemistry, trauma, and environmental factors outside of parental control.

It is important to educate yourself about the facts surrounding child mental disorders to help reduce stigma and promote early intervention and treatment. If you have concerns about your child's mental health, seek professional evaluation from a healthcare provider.

Treatment Options for Child Mental Disorders

There are a variety of treatment options available for children with mental disorders, and the best course of action will depend on the specific disorder and individual needs of the child. Here are some common treatment options:

Therapy

Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, can be beneficial for children to learn coping skills and strategies for managing their symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that has been proven effective in treating many mental disorders in children.

Medication

Medication may be prescribed to manage symptoms for some children with mental disorders. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, and stimulants may be used depending on the specific disorder.

Family Therapy

Family therapy involves working with the entire family unit to improve communication and relationships. It can be an effective way to address issues that may be contributing to a child's mental health problems.

Hospitalization

In severe cases or when a child is at risk of harming themselves or others, hospitalization may be necessary.

It is important to work with a healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment for your child's specific needs. With proper treatment and support, children with mental disorders can learn to manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.

Reducing Stigma Around Child Mental Health Issues

Stigma surrounding child mental health issues can prevent families from seeking the help and support they need. It can also lead to discrimination, bullying, and social isolation for children with mental disorders. Here are some strategies for reducing stigma around child mental health issues:

Education and Awareness

One of the most effective ways to reduce stigma is through education and awareness. Parents, caregivers, teachers, and healthcare providers should be educated about common mental disorders in children, their symptoms, and how to seek help. Community-wide campaigns that promote awareness and understanding of mental health issues can also be effective.

Language Matters

The language we use when talking about mental health can contribute to stigma. Using derogatory or dismissive language like "crazy" or "psycho" can reinforce negative stereotypes about people with mental disorders. Instead, using person-first language that emphasizes the individual rather than their disorder (e.g., "a child with depression" instead of "a depressed child") can help reduce stigma.

Normalize Seeking Help

Normalizing seeking help for mental health issues can help reduce stigma by making it clear that it is a common experience that anyone may go through at some point in their life. Encouraging open discussions about emotions and mental health within families and schools can help create a culture where seeking help is seen as a sign of strength rather than weakness.

Celebrate Differences

Children with mental disorders often face discrimination due to their differences. Emphasizing the positive aspects of diversity in all its forms - including neurodiversity - can help reduce stigma by promoting acceptance and understanding.

By implementing these strategies, we can work towards breaking down the barriers that prevent children with mental disorders from getting the care they need and deserve.

Conclusion

In conclusion, identifying and treating mental disorders in children is crucial for their overall well-being and success. While there are common myths and misconceptions surrounding child mental health issues, it is important to educate ourselves about the facts to reduce stigma and promote early intervention. Treatment options such as therapy, medication, family therapy, and hospitalization can all be effective in managing symptoms and improving quality of life for children with mental disorders.

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