The short answer is “no,” although with early intervention and treatment, many children and adolescents can learn to manage and even overcome their symptoms.
Most psychiatric disorders – such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and ADHD – manifest symptoms before age 14, and those symptoms without treatment tend to worsen in adulthood. Children typically respond to treatment better and more quickly than adults, so seeking treatment early on is the best way toward a positive outcome.
Other difficult behaviors common in young children, such as noncompliance, hyperactivity, sleep resistance and trouble at school, can affect a child’s potential success. Many children benefit from a brief professional intervention, which can improve the parent-child relationship and decrease the likelihood of needing more extensive treatment later on.
Not all behaviors need treatment. Symptoms of a psychiatric disorder often include changes in sleep patterns, irritability, shifts in social habits, changes in appearance or hygiene, changes in weight or appetite, and use of alcohol or drugs. Of course, many of these behaviors are just symptoms of being a teen.
How to tell the difference? One good gauge is the Stoplight Approach. Talk to your child. Chances are, they may just be reacting to some external stress or pressure. Keep your lines of communication open, and the issue may resolve itself. If symptoms are very serious or persist over time, however, or your child talks about self-harm or harming others, contact a mental health professional.
Source: Jennifer Kazmerski, PhD, Psychiatry and Behavioral Services