What does it mean if your child has a mental health disorder

If your child has been diagnosed with a mental illness the concern is that they will suffer the ramifications from this for the rest of their lives. In fact approximately half of children who have a psychiatric disorder can be expected to be disorder free as young adults, of these another half will be totally free of any significant difficulties in terms of work, health, relationships and crime 2. It is possible for those children, their life functioning and satisfaction may actually be higher than those who have suffered no adversity in their life 1
Child psychiatric disorders generally follow relatively distinct patterns of onset and course and the likelihood of the disorder persisting will depend on which category it falls into, however even within these categories there are exceptions  2.
1: Lifelong conditions such as autism spectrum disorder
2: Childhood condition that rarely persists into adulthood such as separation anxiety.
3: Episodic conditions such as depression. These conditions may occur as a single episode that then never reoccurs or it may reoccur in episodes throughout their life.
4: Conditions that peak in adolescence and then show a decline such as substance use disorders.

Currently the factors that predict a long-term outcome are not well known, however it is likely due to a combination of personal characteristics as well as environmental supports  2. To get the best outcome for your child, the most likely factor to be of importance is early and effective treatment. Following this changes in family functioning, possibly via treatment techniques and even environmental changes such as creating more social support networks may all help to create the environmental conditions necessary for the best outcome.


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