Warning Signs

A variety of signs may point to a possible mental health problem in a child or teenager. Some of them are listed below. Pay attention if a child you know has these symptoms.

Is troubled by feeling:
  • Really sad and hopeless without good reason, and the feelings don’t go away;
  • Very angry most of the time, cries a lot, or overreacts to things;
  • Worthless or guilty a lot;
  • Anxious or worried a lot more than other young people;
  • Grief for a prolonged time after a loss or death;
  • Extremely fearful, has unexplained fears or more fears than most children;
  • Constantly concerned about physical problems or appearance; and/or
  • Frightened that his or her mind is controlled or is out of control.
Experiences big changes, for example:
  • Does much worse in school;
  • Loses interest in things usually enjoyed;
  • Has unexplained changes in sleeping or eating habits;
  • Avoids friends or family and wants to be alone all the time;
  • Daydreams too much and can’t get things done;
  • Feels life is too hard to handle or talks about suicide; and/or
  • Hears voices that cannot be explained.
Is limited by:
  • Poor concentration, can’t make decisions;
  • Inability to sit still or focus attention;
  • Worry about being harmed, hurting others, or about doing something “bad;”
  • The need to wash, clean things, or perform certain routines dozens of times a day;
  • Thoughts that race almost too fast to follow; and/or
  • Persistent nightmares.
Behaves in ways that cause problems, for example:
  • Often hurts other people, destroys property, or breaks the law; and/or
  • Does things that can be life threatening.

If your child or teen is experiencing any of the above symptoms and you would like to seek mental health services, please contact Austin Child Guidance Center at 512-451-2242.