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Mental Health of the Child and Its Impact on Life

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On February 3, 2019 an article was published on sciencenews.org about why it’s highly important to diagnose people with depression and/or anxiety early in life. It goes in depth on how the effects of anxiety and depression worsen over time and how it affects people.

The article states that kids who have anxiety and depression as children have a high likelihood of these mental illnesses getting worse. This fact should be common knowledge and helps to show that ignoring an issue isn’t healthy. The article states that even 3 year olds can have mental illnesses like depression and anxiety although it’s extremely hard to detect. Few experts believed that depression and anxiety were things children could have. That is at least until the 1980s when some researchers found that children who were seven had these illnesses. Then in the 1990s it was found that kids as young as even three could have depression and anxiety. Nowadays it’s strange to think we ever believed a human younger than a certain age was said to not be able to have depression and anxiety. The illnesses do manifest differently in really young children, so it does make sense we never noticed it.

Young children can show the illnesses in things such as aggression, difficulty eating, or hyperactivity. Depression and anxiety can cause many physical symptoms such as either overeating or difficulty eating, insomnia or oversleeping, as well as major fatigue no matter the amount of sleep a person gets. Studies show that about 10-20% of preschooler suffer from these mental illnesses and about 2% suffer from suicidal thoughts. Although if the rates were more accurate the rates would most likely rise. Since these kids are often quiet their struggles are overlooked.

Studies show that depressed brains respond less to rewards than healthy brains. One scientist hooked up 78 kids to a brain monitor and found that 53 of those kids had depression. After finding which of the kids had depression the scientist tested a method of treatment for the depression by using a one way mirror to monitor the parent and child while communicating to the parent through a microphone. The treatment was designed to reduce the amount of guilt and shame that often accompany depression. The kids who did the treatment started doing better than the kids who didn’t, and the treated children also showed brain patterns more similarly to healthy children.

I’m super glad that people are researching this stuff and noticing these things. I’m pretty sure I had my mental health issues even as a child because I remember sobbing in a corner in my upstairs bathroom daily. When I was crying upstairs I always wondered what the point of life was. I questioned what it would be like to die when I was young. I really was in a bad spot back then when I was five or seven. I just thought those things were normal. I wish something like this was happening back then and I wish I could’ve been a part of it.

Anxiety and Depression have been super rough on me during my life. It’s excruciatingly hard to get out of bed almost all the time because you don’t get any good sleep. Every day, you wonder if everyone secretly hates you, you wonder what it would be like if you just disappeared from everyone’s lives. You usually assume that yes, everyone hate you they’re just too nice to tell you otherwise and you assume that no one’s lives would change if you were gone and maybe their lives would even be better. You hate yourself more than others hate you. I reached a point where I’m just numb to everything. I put on masks so often it feels normal. I know many people with mental illnesses, and they say the same thing. I’ve got a therapist so everything is better, but I wish I was able to catch this earlier instead of waiting until the brink of losing it and just… I bet you can guess.

These memories are still kind of painful for me to remember, and I wish I could go back to younger me and say that everything would be alright just be patient. If I’m honest back in that place I was in I believed nothing would get better. When you’re in that dark of a place you feel helpless. You feel like you should just quit trying. Why try if it won’t get better, right? It was stupid. I’m fine now. Still not great, but I’m improving. I can feel things like joy again so I’m at least proud of myself for that. I still need to work on my self confidence. I also need to put less pressure on myself, but I’m trying. I feel really happy people are out there trying to help out those who can’t quite tell for themselves that something isn’t right. When you feel those things as a child, you just assume everyone feels the same way. Then you grow older, realize they don’t, and stress out over it. I’m proud in humanity for at least taking strides to realize that adults aren’t the only ones with these issues and that kids’ mental health is just as important.

Overall, I’m extremely proud in humanity for focusing on mental health and realising it’s a real thing to worry about. I know the technology we have for diagnosing young children isn’t great but it’s getting better. I hope we keep making strides towards a better future where children can get the help they need to feel like the best them they can be.

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