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Recognizing the Signs Your Child is Gripped with an Emotional Condition

Recognizing the Signs Your Child is Gripped with an Emotional



High hopes and big dreams – these are what most parents desire for their children to fulfill. With unconditional love, most parents are willing to pay the price and do anything for those dreams to come true. Despite great love and care, however, helping them attain their aspirations can become extremely difficult. What parents may fear the most, however, is their child being stricken with a serious medical or emotional condition.

Indeed, a medical and/or an emotional condition can carry the same “weight” because both can stand in the way of achieving those big dreams. Regrettably and despite advances in the medical field, these two are not looked upon in the same light. Medical conditions are generally given more attention than emotional conditions. This is unfortunate because emotional health is as important as the physical health of the body. It’s important to stay positive and to know that having either kind of condition does not have to mean the end of your dreams for your child and their having a happy childhood.

Professional assistance can spell a big difference in improving the outlook of their condition. Just as a medical doctor can help your child recover from a medical issue, a behavioral health professional can help your child bounce back from the emotional concern or condition that is gripping them. If there are three things that you can do to help your child, it is to: recognize the signs of the emotional condition/issue (depression, anxiety, grief, etc.), provide professional help, and support their treatment and continuing care.


Recognizing the Signs: The Challenge

Many studies show that children, as young as infants and toddlers, can be fraught with emotional conditions. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Children can develop the same emotional health conditions as adults.” Unlike their adult counterparts, however, they “… are less likely to seek treatment…” says the American Psychiatric Association (APA). The reason? Recognizing the signs of emotional conditions remains a big challenge that confronts parents, even in our advanced times.

While not always able to articulate their thoughts and emotions as young children, they may not tell their elders what’s on their minds or how they feel, and therefore, are not of much help in finding an answer. Meanwhile, many parents are not prepared to recognize the signs and symptoms of the varied emotional conditions that may affect children. Not realizing that their children are as vulnerable to emotional conditions as adults, it is easy to miss the signs and symptoms, especially because these are mostly nonspecific. As such, there is a great range of behaviors that may be regarded as developmentally suitable and acceptable. It usually takes a professional eye to distinguish the signs and symptoms.

Out of love, many parents may also have trouble accepting that their little one isn’t perfect. Some may justify that these are merely passing behaviors.  In addition, the fear of what others may think or say about the child or the family can also stand in the way of accepting the child’s condition. Despite the determination to teach this generation about emotional health, the “stigma” sometimes persists. There can also be other challenges or roadblocks that may complicate the process of receiving a proper diagnosis and treatment, such as the perceived costs, how the child will respond, and how it may affect others in the home.


The Signs to Spot

Children can be affected by a number of emotional conditions (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, overwhelm, etc.) and behavioral conditions (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, opposition defiant disorder, conduct disorder, etc.). Individually, these conditions have characteristic symptoms that separate them from others. For example, excessive and indescribable gloom is the hallmark symptom of depression.  Children with ADHD are typically impulsive, hyperactive and inattentive while those with ODD are usually defiant and unruly.

It is helpful to be familiar with the various conditions and their defining or characteristic symptoms. Be aware, though, that there could be individual differences or nuances to these symptoms. The experts advise that it may be best to listen to your “gut feeling.” If you sense that something seems to be off or not quite right, seek professional help without haste. Furthermore, because “major emotional conditions rarely appear ‘out of the blue,’” being alert is important.

Prompted by the need to help parents recognize the nonspecific signs and symptoms of the emotional conditions affecting children,  the Journal of Pediatrics, shares the following red flags to spot:

  1. Feeling very sad or withdrawn for two or more weeks
  2. Seriously trying to harm oneself, thoughts of suicide or making plans to do so
  3. Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason, sometimes with a racing heart or fast breathing
  4. Involved in multiple fights, using a weapon, or wanting to hurt others
  5. Severe, “out-of-control” behavior that can hurt himself or others
  6. Not eating, throwing up or using laxatives to lose weight
  7. Intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities
  8. Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still that puts them in physical danger or causes decline in school work
  9. Repeated use of drugs or alcohol
  10. Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  11. Drastic changes in behavior or personality


Other Red Flags to Watch

This isn’t the end of the challenges for the parents. Very young children may just respond with certain behaviors to stimuli because they do not understand them. They may also exhibit behavior that appears to be common, but which is a nuance of the symptoms that could denote a condition. One thing that you must not do is unnecessarily worry over behaviors or manifestations that may indicate a condition. On the other hand, it is vital not to ignore them altogether. The key is to be vigilant and to seek help right away from a good behavioral health professional.

If their speech or coordination development seems to lag compared to other children their age, or they appear to be excessively clingy, take note. While it could be typical, it may also indicate a condition, such as anxiety. If they are the silent, introverted type, do not take this as something natural; they could be depressed. If they are extra wayward and disobedient, let a trained therapist assess and diagnose them; they may be struggling with a behavioral condition.

Lastly, do not consider clumsiness, excessive misbehavior or anger as usual or merely passing behaviors. These need to be properly evaluated by a professional before trivializing them. With the help of a child therapist, you can gain a better understanding about their development – cognitive, perceptual, motor, language, etc. Pay attention to behaviors which are extreme – they could be red flags that are confusing your child.


Providing Your Child’s Unique Needs

Like grownups, children can face life’s difficulties in many ways. Emotional conditions can impact their overall health and disrupt their development and the successful attainment of their goals. Sadly, they cannot or will not always tell you when their thoughts or feelings are bothering or confusing them. It may not also be easy to recognize the nonspecific symptoms.

As your child’s first line of defense, it is crucial to be extra-perceptive of their emotional state. It is important to give their seemingly unnatural behaviors and responses a second look. You must also respond positively by providing them the proper help of a capable therapist. This is the challenge of many parents. Be comforted in knowing that you have Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC – on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks on your side.

Counseling and therapy can immensely help your child, if he/she is gripped with depression, anxiety, overwhelm, ADHD, or something else. You and your family can offer better support for what their needs are if you are guided by a professional. Complement your love and care with the expertise of the right therapist independently contracted with CCS- Cameron. This is an effective formula, so your precious child can resolve their emotional health issues and bounce back happier and more resilient. Watch them enjoy their childhood free from the incapacitating effects of emotional conditions. Call Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC – on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks, today!


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Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC

Counties: Harnett County

Areas: Cameron NC, Linden Oaks NC, Sprout Springs NC, Anderson Creek NC, Olivia NC, Pineview NC, Johnsonville NC, Spring Lake NC

Zip Codes: 28326, 28327, 27332, 28394

Rose Thomas, MA, LPC, LCAS, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 5+) Children, Teens, Individuals, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD, Relationship Issues, Marriage Counseling, Parenting, PTSD/Trauma Recovery, Acute Stress Disorder, Adult Sexual Abuse Survivors, Adjustment Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar and Related Disorders, Self-injurious/Self-Harm, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety, Disruptive Disorders, Conduct Disorder, Marital Conflict and Discord, LGBT, Substance Use Disorders
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Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Individuals, families, PTSD, Trauma, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Adjustment Disorder, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, communication skills, and Parenting Skills, Behavior Management, Life transitions, Family Conflict, Difficulty Coping, Relationship Problems, Depression, Anxiety

InsuranceBCBSTricare, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted and Apple Pay

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Shirlisa Daniels, MS, LPC, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Teens, Adults and Individuals, Families, Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Panic Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, ODD, PTSD, Relationship Issues, Conflict Resolution and Life Transitions
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

Holly Ring, LMFT

Specializes in: (Ages 7+) Adolescents, College Students, Individuals, Couples, and Families, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma (child and adult, TFCBT certified), Relationship Issues, Coping Skills, Adjustment Disorders, Life Transitions, Suicidal Ideation, Self-esteem, OCD, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting Skills, LGBTQ
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

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