This article was written for parents who sense something is not right with their child, but can’t tell if it is just a passing phase or if it is something they should be concerned about. It contains information about some of the most common mental disorders in children and teens, as well as the warning signs to be on the lookout for.

Children can develop the same mental disorders as adults, but exhibit different symptoms and not know how to explain what they are feeling or why they are acting a ceratain way, which makes it harder for parents to identify the problem. Recognizing the red flags can help you get your child the care he or she needs before it has a chance to intensify or turn into a mental health crisis.

Common mental disorders in children and teens.


Anxiety in children and teens tends to manifest as incessant worries or fears about everyday things, often accompanied by physical symptoms such as digestive issues or unexplained aches and pains, which have a negative impact on their ability to engage in play, school, or social activities.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Children with ADHD have trouble paying attention, and may also be hyperactive and prone to acting impulsively.


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Autism spectrum disorder typically manifests in early childhood, before the age of three, and manifests as difficulty communicating and interacting with others.

Eating disorders.

Children and teens with eating disorders tend to have dysfunctional thoughts about weight and weight loss, ideal body type, and dieting, and to engage in unsafe eating habits.


Depression in children and teens typically manifests as persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and lack of motivation, that negatively impact their ability to function in school or interact with others.

Bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder in children and teens affects their moods and manifests as extreme swings between emotional highs and lows.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Children and teens with OCD have repeated intrusive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) that create extreme anxiety and fear which they try to control by performing compulsive rituals. These obsessive thoughts and compulsive rituals can interfere with their ability to function in their everyday life.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).

Children and teens with ODD are uncooperative and defiant toward their parents, teachers, and other authority figures.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD typically manifests as persistent emotional distress caused by anxiety, flashbacks, and traumatic memories that interfere with normal daily functioning.


Schizophrenia typically appears in the late teens and manifests as disordered thoughts and impressions that cause them to lose touch with reality.

Warning signs.

Although each mental health disorder has its own set of symptoms, the following are some common warning signs of mental illness you can be on the lookout for.

  • Constant sadness or anxiety that lasts for two weeks or longer.
  • Withdrawing from friends and family members, and avoiding social interactions.
  • Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy.
  • Not wanting to participate in their regular sports activities or go to social events like birthday parties.
  • Frequent disobedience or out-of-control behavior.
  • Easily irritated.
  • Tantrums or angry outbursts.
  • Frequent mood swings.
  • Inability to bounce back from the downs of life.
  • Crying a lot or overreacting to things.
  • Behaving in ways they have outgrown.
  • Extreme concern that something bad may happen to them or someone close to them.
  • Noticeable changes in behavior or personality.
  • Changes in eating habits.
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much.
  • Frequent nightmares.
  • Sudden weight gain or loss.
  • Frequent unexplainable physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or joint pain.
  • Trouble concentrating and remembering things.
  • Hearing voices.
  • Significant drop in grades at school.
  • Behavior problems at school.
  • Overwhelming episodes of fear or panic.
  • Cutting classes or not wanting to go to school.
  • Engaging in risky behaviors.
  • Self-harm behaviors such as cutting or burning themselves.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Turning to drugs or alcohol to try and cope with their feelings.

Having just one or two of the symptoms on this list does not necessarily mean your child or teen has a mental disorder. However, if your child’s mood and behavior have suddenly changed, and their symptoms have lasted for two weeks or longer and are interfering with their performance at school and in their day-to-day life, it would be wise to have him or her evaluated by a trained mental health professional.

If you have questions or would like to set up an appointment to meet with one of the faith-based counselors at Redding Christian Counseling in California, please give us a call.

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Mental illness in children: Know the signs.” Mayo Clinic. March 2, 2022.

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When you face a big question that doesn’t seem to have any answers, or at least any easy answers, how do you respond? Life presents us with many conundrums, and tangled situations that we can’t easily make sense of. We read the news and learn about events, accidents, natural disasters, and crises which can highlight just how fragile and vulnerable life is, and it can all be perplexing, overwhelming, and anxiety-inducing.

When we encounter these larger-than-life questions and situations, they can make us feel helpless, hopeless, challenged, and overwhelmed. They can make us question the foundations and purpose of our lives, and that can be deeply unsettling. Such deep questions about our existence and its meaning can be anxiety-inducing.

Understanding existential anxiety.

When you find yourself thinking about your life, mortality and vulnerability, and the meaning and purpose behind it all, you are thinking existential thoughts. What is termed “existential anxiety” is that feeling of panic or fear that arises when a person confronts the limits of their existence. This is often triggered by thoughts of death, the seeming meaninglessness of life, or feelings that one’s life is insignificant in view of larger realities.

This feeling of existential anxiety can result from several circumstances, including the loss of a loved one, reflection on one’s past decisions and regrets, a diagnosis of a serious illness, significant life transitions, as well as when one encounters a significant failure. For instance, if most of your life has been geared toward becoming a lawyer, failing your LSATs or your bar exam can lead to existential anxiety.

However, existential anxiety isn’t necessarily tied to specific events – you may just find yourself feeling a sense of dread or unease about life and its meaning without a precise source.

Signs of existential anxiety.

Anxiety manifests differently for people, but some of the ways existential anxiety is indicated include:

  • Depression
  • Feeling overwhelmed and having difficulty making decisions
  • Experiencing painful emotions such as despair, guilt, or regret
  • Feeling lonely and isolated from friends and loved ones
  • Withdrawing from social activities or loved ones
  • Feeling a lack of motivation and energy
  • Worrying obsessively
  • Feeling as though life is a struggle
  • Questioning your beliefs and deepest-held convictions
  • Experiencing panic attacks and symptoms of anxiety such as shortness of breath, heart palpitations, nausea, and sweating

Treatment options.

The book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible is interesting, not least because of the way it asserts that everything is “meaningless.” According to the Bible Project, the Hebrew word that is translated as “meaningless” is hevel, and what it communicates isn’t so much that life is without meaning; rather, it is that life is like smoke or a vapor.

It’s difficult to grasp, to pin down, and to understand fully; it is sometimes absurd. If we’re honest with ourselves, we often overestimate our ability to understand what life is about, and life circumstances can challenge that sense of confidence.

One of the main ways to address existential anxiety is to honestly explore those feelings of fear, dread, or panic. Questions about your identity, purpose, and whether your choices matter are some of the most profound questions a person can try to answer, and the answers one comes up with matter. Existential anxiety can be part of your journey toward a deeper authenticity, finding meaning in life, and facing the questions of your mortality.

Seeking help for existential anxiety is another helpful way to address it. Your counselor can help you gain a different life perspective that appreciates all that God has placed in your hands, while trusting Him amid the absurdities of life. Simply having a space to verbalize and talk through your anxieties can make a difference, as can medication to treat the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Speaking with a Christian counselor can provide you with a safe space to explore what you believe about life, meaning, and death. They can help you understand God’s promises and how they can apply to you in your current situation.

Practices such as gratitude can help you appreciate and identify significant moments that give your life meaning, and it can also help to identify the thoughts that triggered your existential anxiety. Sometimes those thoughts need to be disrupted and replaced by a healthier outlook.

In other instances, instead of trying to find one all-encompassing answer to address your angst, it may be helpful to take small steps and break those large questions into smaller ones that you take your time answering. Your counselor can be a huge help in the process, walking with you as you begin to appreciate the smaller things in life that tend to go unnoticed in the hubbub of a busy life.

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Have you ever asked yourself “Why do people have affairs?” There is no simple answer or common thread.

Affairs are complicated. Very few people actually set out to cheat on their spouse. – Scott Haltzman, M.D.

An affair can be motivated by any one of countless reasons such as sexual dissatisfaction, lack of validation, a need for variety, feeling neglected, boredom, a lack of commitment, or even a desire for revenge. More often though it is due to a mix of contributing factors brewing beneath the surface that cause cracks in the relationship.

This then opens a door for the unfaithful spouse to be sucked into an unintended affair through an opportunity or circumstance in which a person appears who makes him or her feel valued and appreciated.

No matter the reason for the affair, rarely if ever does the unfaithful spouse have a desire to purposely hurt his or her partner or destroy their family, even though those may be the unfortunate consequences.

Why Do People Have Affairs? Factors that Can Contribute

Letting your guard down.

Happy marriages are not immune to affairs. Opportunities can appear out of the blue that provide a strong temptation to be unfaithful. Your best defense is to maintain open, honest, respectful channels of communication between you and your spouse, and never take each other for granted.

Allowing your marriage to slip out of focus.

Even when life happens, it is important to make time for your spouse and stay physically and emotionally connected to him or her. Becoming hyper-focused on work, a busy schedule, or the kids can open the door to infidelity.

Lack of emotional connection.

Don’t assume there is an emotional connection between you and your spouse just because you are physically present. People crave validation and attention. Without it, your spouse may feel unloved, unappreciated, and neglected, and may look for validation somewhere else.

Lack of communication.

Being open and honest about your needs without blaming or shaming one another can enable you and your spouse to better understand and support one another so you do not feel the need to go outside your relationship to seek validation.

Not communicating your needs or addressing problems directly, however, opens the door to infidelity. Unresolved issues tend to create an emotional disconnect and a space between spouses which becomes an invitation for someone else to fill the void.

Unmet Needs.

The more you and your spouse seek to meet each other’s needs, the more it minimizes the likelihood of infidelity in your marriage. Spouses with unmet needs are easily tempted to stray when someone of the opposite sex at their office or gym provides a sympathetic ear and the validation and support they do not get at home.


Some people have an affair out of a desire to experience something fresh and new when the spark is gone out of their marriage and the relationship feels stuck in a rut.


Some people have an affair to get back at their partner for something he or she did to hurt them or make them angry. This can be avoided by keeping the lines of communication open between you and being open and honest with one another so ill feelings don’t have a chance to fester and build up.

If you have questions about this article on why people have affairs or would like to set up an appointment to meet with one of the faith-based counselors at our location, please do not hesitate to give us a call.

References:Chris Ownby. “Why People Really Have Affairs (It’s Not Always Just About Sex).” First Things First. December 15, 2020.

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