Warning signs of abnormal mental development

Depending on the person’s age, abnormal mental development can take different forms. Abnormal mental development can manifest itself in a variety of ways depending on the individual and the specific condition they may be experiencing.

Warning signs of abnormal mental development (Photo by Sebastian Pandelache on Unsplash)
Warning signs of abnormal mental development (Photo by Sebastian Pandelache on Unsplash)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Rohini Rajeev, senior psychotherapist and founder of The Able Mind, insisted: It is important for parents to understand and accept that developmental milestones (cognitive, emotional/social, language, motor, etc. ) differ from growth milestones (physical parameters) and most children fall within a range. While infrequent minor developmental delays shouldn’t be a cause for alarm, attention should be paid to frequent, multiple, and significant developmental delays. Noticing developmental delays in their child can be upsetting and challenging for parents.

According to her, the following are some signs to look out for so that early interventions can be initiated, especially in the case of neurodevelopmental delays and the child can be supported and parents guided appropriately:

  • Sudden and ongoing change in behavior
  • Don’t answer when called and don’t make eye contact
  • Lack of facial expressions and negative expression of shyness
  • Lack of social interaction: The child does not show interest in social interactions with other people, avoids any interaction for a long time, does not smile or does not respond to others’ attempts to communicate.

As for teenagers, Dr. Vrushali Bichkar, a consultant pediatrician and neonatologist at Lullanagar Motherhood Hospital in Pune, cautioned to watch out for these warning signs of abnormal mental development:

Feeling sad or down: In case your child tends to feel sad for no reason, it could be due to depression or any other mental illness.

Fuzzy thinking or inability to concentrate: Having these red flags will indicate that you need to see your therapist without any delay.

Feeling worried or guilty: If you often worry or keep feeling guilty, then you need to take care of your mental well-being.

Extreme mood swings and withdrawal from activities you previously loved to do means there are problems with your mental well-being. The child may be happy, but in the next moment he may become angry or sad.

Tiredness: If you often feel tired and unable to carry out your daily activities easily, you need to be aware. Unusual tiredness will indicate that something is wrong with you.

Lack of ability to cope with stress of exams or peer pressure will also indicate a mental health problem.

suicidal thought: If you feel like ending your life, it also means that there is some problem with you. You may be stressed, anxious or depressed due to problems such as bullying, failing exams or family problems. You must seek timely intervention without any delay.

In infants and toddlers, Dr. Sudha Saini, a pediatrician at Apollo 24/7 and Apollo Noida Hospitals, highlighted these warning signs to look out for:

1. Delay or lack of development of motor skills, such as crawling, walking and talking.

2. Lack of interest in toys or other objects.

3. Poor eye contact or difficulty following objects with the eyes.

4. Excessive crying or difficulty calming down.

5. Unresponsive to sounds or voices.

6. Repetitive behaviors, such as rocking or turning.

In children and adolescents, Dr. Sudha Saini listed:

1. Difficulty learning and retaining new information.

2. Trouble paying attention or staying focused.

3. Lack of interest in social interactions or relationships.

4. Aggressive or impulsive behavior.

5. Withdrawal from family and friends.

6. Mood swings or emotional instability.

7. Sleep disturbances or appetite changes.

Dr. Sudha Saini said: “It is important to note that some of these behaviors may be normal at certain ages and developmental stages, but if they persist or interfere with daily functioning, they can be a cause for concern. If you are concerned about a child’s mental development, it is important to seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

According to Dr. Himani Narula, developmental behavioral pediatrician, co-founder and director of Continue Kids, here are some common warning signs that can indicate abnormal mental development in children:

  1. Delayed speech and language skills
  2. Difficulty with social interactions and making friends
  3. Lack of interest in gambling or limited gambling skills
  4. Repetitive behaviors or obsessive interests
  5. Difficulties with learning and academic skills
  6. Poor memory or attention span
  7. Hyperactivity or impulsivity
  8. Unusual responses to sensory input, such as sensitivity to light or sound
  9. Self-harming behavior or aggression towards others
  10. Unusual mood swings or emotional outbursts

He concluded: It is important to note that these signs may not necessarily indicate a developmental disorder or delay, and that every child develops at their own pace. However, if you are concerned about your child’s development or notice persistent signs that seem to be impacting their day-to-day life, we recommend you see a healthcare professional or mental health worker for further assessment and support.

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