Is It Age-Related Behavior or Mental Illness Symptoms?

February 28, 2017 Becky Oberg

Sometimes we don't know if a child's behavior is age-related or a mental illness (Brain Disorders: Mental Disorders vs. Behavioral Disorders). For example, how do you know if your two-year-old is hyperactive or just high-energy? Yet according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, half of all chronic mental health conditions manifest by age 14, and three-fourths by age 24. In this video, I discuss the difference between age-related behavior and mental illness symptoms.

An age-related behavior can be confused with mental illness symptoms and vise verse. How do you know what your child is going through? Read this.There is a lot of controversy about diagnosing children with mental illness. I went through a period of time at age 17 when I was suicidal. That is not normal age-related behavior, nor were the auditory hallucinations I was having. Comparing my symptoms to the behavior of my peers might have gotten me into therapy earlier.

Also, while some disorders can only be diagnosed in adulthood, that does not mean children can not display mental illness symptoms--they're just too young for a formal diagnosis.

When considering whether a behavior is age-related or mental illness-related, ask yourself, "Is this normal for this age?"

Trust your instinct. There's a big difference between adolescence and the onset of schizophrenia.

Childhood Mental Illness Symptoms Should be Diagnosed

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APA Reference
Oberg, B. (2017, February 28). Is It Age-Related Behavior or Mental Illness Symptoms?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 24 from

Author: Becky Oberg

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