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May is National Mental Health Awareness Month

National Mental Health Awareness Month is coming, and kids’ doctors recommend that parents be alert to signs that their children might be suffering from problems. The trouble is that parents often have blind spots they don’t know about. Other people in Gastonia, NC — teachers, counselors, coaches and so on — who work with your children may notice a problem before you do. Make a point of listening if they have a feeling something’s wrong.

It’s important not to stigmatize mental health concerns, but to treat them the same way you would any other health problem — not as some moral deficiency on your child’s part or some failure on your part, but as one of those unfortunate things that just happen. They may sometimes be induced or exacerbated by stress in a child or teenager’s life, but this is not always the case. One of the biggest problems in the field of mental health is getting people of any age to seek help when they need it.

Warning signs you should know about

Any use of alcohol (or of course drugs) in a teenager is an immediate red flag. Even teenagers who don’t have a genetic predisposition to addiction have no idea how to drink responsibly at this point. Your son or daughter will need to have a conversation with your kids’ doctor at this point. The doctor has a professional commitment to your child’s health, and is trained to get him or her to talk openly about things your child might not be willing to share with you.

You should also watch for mood swings, unexpected weight gain or loss or anxiety. If your child seems unusually withdrawn, says he or she feels trapped, unhappy or like a burden, this is a sign of a much more serious problem.

Testing mental health and diagnosing conditions

A kids’ doctor can recognize at least some of the warning signs of depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, alcohol abuse, drug problems, post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. There are online medical tests available, but you should try to have a professional do the testing. If your kid’s doctor spots any warning signs, he or she can refer you to someone who can tell you with greater certainty if your child is just going through a difficult time or is experiencing the onset of a serious mental illness. 

A kids’ doctor in Gastonia, NC

Gastonia Pediatric Associates is a kids doctor conveniently located west of Charlotte. It is one of the first medical practices for children in the Gastonia area, has served three generations of families with personalized care and offers medical advice for parents 24 hours a day. Its staff includes three physicians and three nursing staff. Gastonia Pediatrics is owned and directed by its own physicians. If you are looking for a kid’s doctor, call today.