Signs & Symptoms

Signs & Symptoms

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Anxiety Disorders
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depressive Illness)
Conduct Disorder
Eating Disorders
Childhood-Onset Schizophrenia

1. Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are the most commonly occurring mental health problem in children and youth (6.5%). Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful situations, but it is a debilitating condition when it hinders an individuals ability to cope on a day-to-day basis.

Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
child experiences extreme fear of being away from home or from his primary caretakers

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
child experiences excessive and uncontrollable worry about things for example: the future, being on time for appointments or a change in routines when there is really no problem or any realistic circumstance to cause the worry

Social Phobia (SOC)
child experiences excessive fear of being negatively evaluated, rejected, humiliated or embarrassed in front of others.

Panic Disorder with or without Agoraphobia (PD)
child has panic attacks in certain situations or places, may be suffering from Agoraphobia if he or she has a fear of being stuck in a situation where help or escape is unavailable
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2. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD occurs in 3-5% of children and youth. It typically begins before the age of seven and can continue into adulthood.

Possible Signs:

  • inattentiveness: includes not being able to focus on any one thing, inability to complete tasks, organize or study
  • impulsiveness: includes unrestrained verbal and emotional outbursts, not thinking about consequences of actions, inability to take turns in games or wait for things they want
  • hyperactivity: includes the inability to sit still, need to speak constantly
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3. Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depressive Illness)

Bipolar Disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, typically develops in late adolescence or early adulthood, but it can occur in teenagers and even rarely in young children (.1%). Everyone goes through normal periods of ups and downs, but Bipolar Disorder causes dramatic mood swings from overly high and/or irritable (Mania) to sad and hopeless (Depression).

Possible Signs:

  • severe changes in mood to either unusually happy or silly, or very irritable, angry, agitated or aggressive
  • unrealistic highs in self-esteem, for example a teenager who feels all-powerful or like a superhero with special powers
  • surges in energy and the ability to go with little or no sleep for days without feeling tired
  • unfocused talking patterns - talks too much, too fast, changes topics too quickly, and cannot be interrupted
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4. Conduct Disorder

About 3 to 5 children out of every 100 in Canada have a Conduct Disorder. A child with Conduct Disorder has both emotional and behavioural problems and will take dangerous risks. Many accidents in young people are the result of risks they take because they have a Conduct Disorder. Accidents represent the number one cause of death in Canadian teens. Conduct disorders can co-occur with Depression and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

Possible Signs:

  • has difficulty following the rules and behaving in a socially acceptable way
  • bursts out in anger frequently
  • acts aggressively towards peers and adults
  • begins to lie, steal, destroy property, and be sexually inappropriate
  • takes risks and attempt to commit suicide
  • fails in school and has negative family and social experiences
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5. Depression

Depression is defined as an illness when symptoms continue for two weeks or more and have a significant impact on a young person's ability to function.

Possible Signs:

  • irritability, depressed mood, persistent sadness, frequent crying
  • thoughts of death or suicide
  • loss of enjoyment in favorite activities
  • persistent refusal to go to school
  • frequent complaints of physical illnesses such as headaches or stomach aches
  • low energy level, fatigue, poor concentration, complaints of boredom
  • major change in eating or sleeping patterns, such as oversleeping or overeating
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6. Eating Disorders

Anorexia and bulimia are on the rise among Canada's teenaged girls. Anorexia affects 1 in every 100 to 200 adolescent girls in Canada and a much smaller number of boys. It is estimated that from 1 to 3 of every 100 young people in Canada suffer from Bulimia. A teen who has Anorexia or Bulimia is a perfectionist who suffers from low self-esteem and an un-real belief of being overweight, regardless of how thin he or she is.

Possible Signs:

  • not eating enough; this will cause his or her weight to drop 15% below what is normal for his or her age and height
  • eats too much food all at once and then focuses on getting the food out of his or her stomach by vomiting, using laxatives or exercising too much
  • fear about weight gain
  • an unrealistic image of her/his body; constantly thinks he/she is overweight
  • a loss or interruption of menstruation
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7. Childhood-Onset Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a disease that affects the brain. About 1 out of every 1000 children in Canada has Schizophrenia. A child can first develop Schizophrenia at an early phase of his or her development and it can lead to a child being severely disabled.

Young people with Schizophrenia will find it hard to control what they think and the way they act. A young person will begin to act differently if he or she develops Schizophrenia. For example, a child who used to enjoy being around other people may become shy and seem in his or her own world.

Possible Signs:

  • confuses television with reality
  • has problems making and keeping friends
  • is extremely moody
  • laughs at a sad event
  • has trouble telling the difference between dreams and reality
  • thinks that people are out to get him/her or can read his/her mind
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