ATLANTA - Children and teens, just like adults, experience mental health problems, like anxiety and depression.
Dr. Suvrat Bhargave of the Center for Family Psychiatry in Tyrone, says there are a handful of settings or situations that might yield clues that your child is having a hard time.
First, Bhargave says, look for changes in your child's school performance.
"So, if they're having a harder time focusing, if they're failing, whereas before they weren't, or they're resisting going to school, those could be signs that your child is struggling emotionally," he says.
Next, he says, watch for changes in your child's daily habits.
"Is the child eating differently than he used to," Bhargave asks. "Is the sleep pattern off? Is your child bedwetting when they weren't before?"
Also, notice changes in your child's mood.
"So, when mood is off, some people become more irritable," Bhargave explains. "They have more mood swings. They have higher levels of anxiety or anger. And then others become more isolated, and they want to be to themselves."
A change in your child's behavior can also signal a problem.
"Are they acting out more," Bhargave asks. "Sometimes a child is acting out more, is actually just asking for help."
Finally, look for changes in the child's relationships.
"So, do they want fewer interactions with their family or friends? Has the quality of their interaction with the family and friends changed, or are they trying to avoid social activities altogether? All of those are signs that your child is struggling emotionally."
If you're seeing these signs, Dr. Bhargave says, talk to your child's pediatrician or primary care doctor.
"Don't worry about coming up with a diagnosis," he says. "The professional will know what to do with the information that you give him or her, and then they will perhaps be able to guide you as to who the next person will be. Similarly, if you're seeing that your child is struggling in school, begin the discussion. Go to the school counselor and say,"You know, tell me again what you're noticing. What could that mean?'"