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Mental Illness in Children

What Is the Outlook for Children With Mental Illness?

When treated appropriately and early, many children can fully recover from their mental illness or successfully control their symptoms. While some children become disabled adults because of a chronic or severe disorder, many people who have a mental illness are able to live full and productive lives.

It is very important to seek treatment for your child if they are displaying any symptoms of mental illness. Without treatment, many mental disorders can continue into adulthood and lead to problems in all areas of the person's adult life. People with untreated mental disorders are at high risk for many problems, including alcohol or drug abuse, and violent or self-destructive behavior, even suicide.

What Research Is Being Done on Mental Illness in Children?

To date, most research on mental illness has centered on mental disorders in adults. However, the mental health community has now begun to focus on mental illness in children. Researchers are looking at childhood development in terms of what is normal and abnormal, trying to understand how factors affecting development can have an impact on mental health. The goal is to try to predict, and ultimately, prevent, developmental problems that could lead to mental illness. A key part of this research is the identification of risk factors -- factors that increase a child's chances of developing a mental disorder. In addition, the mental health community is calling for additional research on medications used to treat children with mental disorders.

Can Mental Illness in Children Be Prevented?

Most mental illnesses are caused by a combination of factors and cannot be prevented. However, if symptoms are recognized and treatment is started early, many of the distressing and disabling effects of a mental illness may be prevented or at least minimized.

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Marina Katz, MD on February 20, 2012

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