Healthy Minds Fairfax

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., M-F
703-324-7938 TTY 711
12011 Government Center Parkway - Pennino Building
Fairfax, VA 22035
Janet Bessmer, CSA Program Manager
Peter Steinberg, Healthy Minds Fairfax Program Manager

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Common mental health diagnoses in children and youth

Photo of smiling mother holding preschool sonWhile your child may be experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder, only their doctor or a licensed mental health professional can properly diagnose your child.

Please note: We have listed common mental health disorders found in children and youth. The symptoms listed under each disorder are common symptoms but not all symptoms are listed. Find out where to get help for your child in an emergency, or where to get help if it's not an emergency.

Common mental health disorders in children and adolescents are:

There are several different types of anxiety disorders. Generic common symptoms of anxiety disorders:

  • Excessive worrying
  • Feelings of stress
  • Sleep problems
  • Feeling irritable
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Fears of various situations

Common symptoms:

  • Inability to concentrate, pay attention and/or complete tasks
  • Difficulty staying organized
  • Losses objects and easily forgets things
  • Trouble ignoring outside stimulation
  • Some children may have an excessive amount of energy

Common symptoms:

  • Extreme mood swings
  • Has experienced a manic episode – needs little sleep, has an extreme amount of energy
  • Has experienced a depressive episode – no energy, feelings of worthlessness and helpless
  • May experience thoughts to harm self

Common symptoms:

  • Has aggressive behaviors
  • Engages in deceitful and/or destructive behavior
  • Little or no more remorse
  • Low self esteem
  • Violates rules including engaging criminal activity

Common symptoms:

  • Feeling sad most of the day
  • May be irritable
  • Feels tired, low energy
  • Has feelings of worthlessness, helplessness or both
  • Has trouble with concentration
  • May have thoughts about harming themselves

Common symptoms:

  • Irritable most of the day
  • Severe temper outbursts that occur several times per week
  • The symptoms are inconsistent with the child’s development level
  • The symptoms occur in multiple settings and last for at least one year

Common symptoms of anorexia

  • Intense fear of gaining weight   
  • Poor body image
  • May restrict what they eat
  • May binge then purge what they have eaten

Common symptoms of bulimia

  • Eating a larger amount of food in a short period of time that what is considered normal
  • Lacks control when eating
  • Anorexia must be ruled out

Common symptoms:

  • Irritable
  • Argumentative
  • Does not follow rules or does the opposite of what is asked
  • Vindictive

Common symptoms:

  • Must have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event
  • Re-experiences the event through nightmares and/or flashbacks
  • Reacts to reminders of the event
  • Avoids certain situations
  • Lacks memory of the event(s)
  • Is easily startled
  • Becomes hypervigilant
  • May develop symptoms like those listed under anxiety or depression

Common symptoms:

  • Delusional thinking
  • Hallucinations – visual or auditory are most common
  • Disorganized thinking
  • Flat affect
  • Unable to engage a goal directed activities

Common symptoms:

  • Need to use the substance all the time
  • Need more of the substance to get the same affect
  • Use of the substance interferes with school
  • Engages in risky behavior to obtain the substance
  • Fails at stopping the use of the substance
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