In this post, renowned psychiatrist Dr Sagnik Mukherjee explains why people should pay early attention to their child’s psychiatric problems.

People see children as a bundle of fun and playful personalities, but children experience all the emotions that adults feel. The way children react to environmental factors is different from adults. Children throw tantrums and they can be easily distracted. People are reluctant to see emotional disorders in children as mental disorders. After all, isn’t defiant behaviour a part of growing up?

Adults and parents may see it as a phase that their son or daughter will grow out of. Young kids understand the world by challenging it. As kids go through a growth spurt, they become moody. At what point in time should the problematic behaviour be seen as a disorder? Some children may be slow in picking up social skills.

At what point should a primary care provider check for defiant disorder? Accepting the possibility that children can have a mental disorder is hard. After all, childhood is supposed to be the best phase of life. That being said, careless mistakes with early signs of mental disorder can cause irreversible damage. 

Let us be cautious of dismissive statements such as “My child does not sit quietly even for a moment. S/he is very energetic.”

Children are exploring the big world. No doubt, they are overstimulated. Along with rapid brain development, kids are learning many social skills. So children can seem hyper. Does your child have difficulty in finishing basic tasks? Do your children get fidgety while awaiting their turn? You might have tried correcting the behaviour a lot of times. Do you feel that your kid does not consider the needs of others often? The above behaviour point towards Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Caregivers dismiss ADHD as a part of a normal childhood. Some may even end up blaming the child for being irresponsible. ADHD is a psychiatric problem. Children with ADHD need treatment. So does that mean children with ADHD need lifelong medication? Medicating a young child can seem scary for parents. While medications are used to manage ADHD, it is not the only option. Your child’s psychiatrist can help you with behavioural interventions.

Parents need family therapy and training while dealing with attention deficit disorders in children. Breaking complex tasks into small chunks can help kids focus. With the right care, children with ADHD can do as well as their peers.

Autism spectrum disorders are common, but the stigma associated with spectrum disorders complicates things. Spectrum disorders are nothing but a different way of seeing this world.

Importance of Early Detection

Early detection and intervention help a lot. For school-age children, early intervention can make life with peers feel less isolated. Without a diagnosis, children will be left to feel bewildered and misunderstood. Academic performance can improve with autism-appropriate teaching plans. Children with autism need timely support in vital developmental areas.

Also, depending on the spectrum they are in, they may need medical help. Instead of ignoring and getting embarrassed, parents need to recognize psychiatric disorders. Is your child having a meltdown in the middle of the road? Are you worried about developmental delays in your child? A visit to a child psychiatrist can help you identify early signs of spectrum disorders.

Is a child showing sudden disruptive behaviour? Has an outgoing child suddenly become reclusive? 

Children whose parents suffer from substance abuse are at many risks. Family dysfunction can be a major risk factor for mental illness. If, as a teacher, you notice defiant disorder in a child, check the family background. The behaviour could be a reaction to an abusive family.

A health care provider can access environmental factors that put children at risk. Early detection ensures that the damage is less. Most psychiatric disorders can be treated and reversed. Childhood mental health impacts quality of life later. 

“We are a happy and safe family. Can my child have psychiatric disorders?”

While vital, the environment does not always determine if the child is suffering mentally. Childhood mental health is as important as physiological health. Despite best hygiene practices at home, kids get infections. Similarly, kids can show depressive symptoms in a happy home.

Some mental disorders like bipolar disorder can be genetic. Impulsive behaviour is common among teenagers. If something seems out of control, watch out for bipolar maniac symptoms. Children may not be able to express depressive symptoms like adults. Depression can manifest in loss of appetite. Sudden changes in your child’s daily activities can be a symptom of mental disorders. So like physiological disorders, mental issues need medical attention. 

Childhood is as stressful as adulthood. So, children can get anxiety and depression. Healthy development includes good mental health. Healthy children become productive adults. Do not ignore the problems developed by your child as they can manifest even worse when they become an adult. The sooner you act, the better.

If your child is facing developmental issues, visit our clinic in Kolkata. Dr Sagnik Mukherjee is a trusted professional psychiatrist who will diagnose the problem and recommend the best solution. 

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