The occasional bad mood is inevitable for anyone— young or old! Difficult moods can be the result of lack of sleep, proper nutrition, attention, or mental disorders. However, when down, stressed, and anxious moods persist, there may be an underlying cause. SAMHSA suggests children as young as infancy may be affected by events that threaten their safety or the safety of their parents or caregivers. It is essential to keep an eye on signs your child may be struggling emotionally.
Signs Your Child May Be Struggling Emotionally
Many children often lack the ability to express their feelings properly when it comes to distressing situations. Oftentimes, this can make it difficult to recognize the signs your child may be struggling emotionally. At Wake Forest Pediatrics, we understand that knowing the signs of emotional distress is paramount to your child’s overall health.
1. Changes In Sleeping Habits
When a child is struggling emotionally, and their minds are racing with different thoughts or worries, they may experience changes in sleeping patterns. This may include not being able to fall asleep (insomnia), sleeping too much, or sleepwalking or talking. Remember, your child having changes to their sleeping habits does not directly equate to mental health issues, but it is important to be mindful of this potential.
2. Avoidance Or Withdrawal
A big tell-tale sign your child may be struggling emotionally is if they begin to withdraw from activities they used to enjoy or avoid them altogether. NIH suggests the lack of social interaction in childhood may result from a variety of causes, including social fear and anxiety or a preference for solitude. This may result in low self-esteem, depressive symptoms, or internalizing problems. If you find your children beginning to withdraw from activities, it is important to have a conversation with them.
3. Mood Changes And Irritability
Mood changes in children are rather normal. Most children are still learning how to properly express their emotions through words, and are unable to portray them in a mature way. This often can result in mood changes and irritability. However, should these behaviors persist, there may be an underlying cause. Irritability, low mood, or intense emotions may be a sign your child is feeling anxious or depressed.
4. Physical Symptoms
Physical symptoms are another sign that your child may be struggling emotionally. Because children may have a difficult time pinpointing where their emotions are coming from, they can often show up as physical symptoms. Some symptoms may include headaches, stomachaches, nausea, or general malaise. Kids are prone to getting sick, but when these symptoms are reoccurring with no apparent cause, it may be time to consult a healthcare provider.
5. Trouble Concentrating
Concentrating can be difficult for just about anyone from time to time. However, in a child’s developmental years, it is essential to keep an eye on the behaviors that may be inhibiting their ability to learn, grow, and thrive. CHADD suggests 2.4 million school-age children ages 6-11 have been diagnosed with ADHD. Those with ADHD are more likely to receive a dual diagnosis of depression, bipolar disorder, or another mood disorder.
6. Increased Aggression Or Overreactions
Children who are struggling emotionally can sometimes overreact in situations or have an outburst of aggression. Yale Medicine suggests increased anger often accompanies mental health conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism, ADHD, and Tourette’s syndrome. It is important to get your child screened for these conditions if you have a particular concern.
Wake Forest Pediatrics strives to improve patient care by strengthening the patient-doctor relationship, providing open communication, and working as a team for a comprehensive approach to medical care. This includes providing assistance for parents who believe their child may be struggling emotionally. To talk to our team about a care plan for your child, call our Wake Forest office at 919-556-4779 or our Knightdale office at 919-266-5059 or make an appointment.