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Child and adolescent behavioral health problems mother girls

If you know the illness or disorder you are trying to find, click here.

If you're not sure what the problem might be, review our list of common symptoms to see if any of them sound like your child.

Common symptoms of child and adolescent behavioral health problems

This is not an accurate diagnostic tool, but can provide a rough indication of whether you should see a behavioral health care professional.

Your child might have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD, also known as ADHD for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) if he/she is:

  • Easily distracted by sights and sounds
  • Doesn't pay attention to detail
  • Doesn't seem to listen when spoken to
  • Makes careless mistakes
  • Doesn't follow through on instructions or tasks
  • Avoids or dislikes activities that require longer periods of mental effort
  • Loses or forgets items necessary for tasks
  • Is forgetful in day-to-day activities
  • Is restless, fidgets and squirms
  • Runs and climbs and is not able to stay seated
  • Blurts out answers before hearing the entire question
  • Has difficulty playing quietly
  • Talks excessively
  • Interrupts others
  • Has difficulty waiting in line or waiting for turn

Your child may have an anxiety disorder if he/she experiences:

  • Worry or dread
  • Obsessive or intrusive thoughts
  • Sense of imminent danger or catastrophe
  • Fear or panic
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Impatience
  • Ambivalence
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Sweating, especially the palms
  • Dry mouth
  • Flushing or blushing
  • Muscle tension
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness or faintness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Shaking
  • Choking sensation
  • Frequent urination
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Feeling of "butterflies" in the stomach
  • Tingling sensations
  • Nail biting or other habitual behavior

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Bipolar disorder often includes:

  • Dramatic mood swings ranging from elated excitability to hopeless despondency
  • Extreme changes in energy and behavior
  • Periods of highs that include:
    • Persistent and inexplicable elevation in mood
    • Increased energy and effort toward goal-directed activities
    • Restlessness and agitation
    • Racing thoughts, jumping from one idea to another
    • Rapid speech or pressure to keep talking
    • Trouble concentrating
    • Decreased need for sleep
    • Overconfidence or inflated self-esteem
    • Poor judgment, often involving spending sprees and sexual indiscretions
  • Periods of lows that include:
    • Prolonged sad, hopeless, or empty mood
    • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
    • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
    • Decreased energy or fatigue
    • Trouble concentrating, remembering, making decisions
    • Restlessness or diminished movements, agitation
    • Sleeping too much or too little
    • Unintended weight loss or gain
    • Thoughts of death or suicide with or without suicide attempts

These same symptoms might be a sign of depression.

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Symptoms of Oppositional Defiance Disorder(ODD) usually begin around age 8 and increase over several months. Children with ODD often:

  • Argue with adults
  • Lose their tempers
  • Refuse to follow adults' requests or rules
  • Deliberately annoy others and are annoyed by others
  • Are angry and resentful
  • Are spiteful or vindictive
  • Blame others for their own mistakes
  • Have low self-esteem

Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are:

  • Obsessions – unwanted, repetitive and intrusive ideas, impulses or images
  • Compulsions – repetitive behaviors or mental acts usually performed to reduce the distress associated with obsessions

Common obsessions include:

  • Persistent fears that harm may come to self or a loved one
  • Unreasonable concern with being contaminated
  • Unacceptable religious, violent, or sexual thoughts
  • Excessive need to do things correctly or perfectly

Common compulsions include:

  • Excessive checking of door locks, stoves, water faucets, light switches, etc.
  • Repeatedly making lists, counting, arranging, or aligning things
  • Collecting and hoarding useless objects
  • Repeating routine actions a certain number of times until it feels just right
  • Unnecessary re-reading and re-writing
  • Mentally repeating phrases

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If your child has experienced some kind of trauma, he/she might experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).Symptoms fall into three categories:

  • Re-experiencing of the event
    • Dreams/nightmares
    • Flashbacks
    • Anxious reactions to reminders of the event
    • Hallucinations
  • Avoidance
    • Avoiding close emotional contact with family and friends
    • Avoiding people or places that are reminders of the event
    • Loss of memory about the event
    • Feelings of detachment, numbness
  • Arousal
    • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
    • Anger and irritability
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Being easily startled

Physical symptoms may also occur such as:

  • Stomach and digestive problems
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness

People with PTSD may also abuse alcohol or drugs.

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