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FC Home Mental Illness in Children Diagnosing Mental Illness


The information below has been re-printed from WebMD.  To learn more  information, you can visit their website at www.webmd.com.  If you wish to speak to a clinician, or make an appointment for your child to have an evaluation, please contact the Fulton County Oak Hill Child, Adolescent & Family Center at (404) 612-4111.


According to WebMD, mental disorders in children are diagnosed based on signs and symptoms; however, diagnosing mental illness in children can be especially difficult.  Many behaviors that are seen as symptoms of mental disorders, such as shyness, anxiety (nervousness), strange eating habits, and outbursts of temper, can occur as a normal part of a child's development.  Behaviors become symptoms when they occur very often, last a long time, occur at an unusual age, or cause significant disruption to the child's and/or family's life.

If symptoms are present, a doctor will begin an evaluation by performing a complete medical history and physical exam.  Although there are no lab tests to specifically diagnose mental disorders, the doctor might use various diagnostic tests such as x-rays and blood tests, to rule out physical illness or medication side effects as the cause of symptoms.

If no physical illness is found, the child may be referred to a child and adolescent psychiatrist or psychologist - health care professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illness in children and teens.  Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a child for a mental disorder.  The doctor bases his or her diagnosis on reports of the child's symptoms and his or her observation of the child's attitude and behavior.  The doctor often must rely on reports from the child's parents, teachers, and other adults because children often have trouble explaining their problems or understanding their symptoms.  The doctor then determines of the child's symptoms point to a specific mental disorder.

To learn more information on this subject, please visit the WebMD website at www.webmd.com.  You also can contact the Fulton County Oak Hill Child, Adolescent & Family Center at (404) 612-4111 for information or to make an appointment for your child.  The Fulton County Oak Hill Child, Adolescent & Family Center provides behavioral health services to Fulton County youth between the ages of 0 to 21 years old.




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