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  Kids and Mental Health  
 

Children’s mental health is as important as their physical health . Act if problems are severe, persistent, and affect daily activities. Don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed. Seek help if your child:

• Often seems sad, worried, or fearful

• Has dramatic shifts in appetite or sleep needs

• Spends most of the time alone instead of with friends or family

• Has falling grades or interest in school

• Is hyperactive, impulsive, or can’t concentrate

• Is self-destructive or too aggressive toward others Start by calling your child’s doctor. Describe the behaviors that worry you and ask if your child needs to see a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or behavioral therapist. The top mental problems that affect children and teens include:

Anxiety. One large study of 9- to 17-yearolds found up to 13 percent have an anxiety disorder, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Up to 5 percent of school-age children have ADHD, says the HHS. They often can’t pay attention or concentrate. They’re easily distracted and impulsive.

Depression. Up to 2 percent of children and up to 8 percent of teens suffer from depression, says the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Mood, energy, interests, sleep, appetite, and overall performance can suffer.

Bipolar disorder. This illness affects about 1 percent of teens, the NIH says. It causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and functioning.  In some cases, talk therapy and family support may be all a child needs. In other cases, a child needs medication.  Most children who receive the right kind of help improve and go on to live full and healthy lives as adults. Seeking help early is key to a positive outcome.

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