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Typical student or early signs of serious mental trouble?

Recently, we’ve been hearing a lot about “college students flooding the mental health centers” and new clinics popping up near campuses designed to help students cope with anxiety, depression, and related disorders.  According to WSJ,* 17% of college students are diagnosed with or treated for anxiety last year, and as of this Spring, 13.9% were diagnosed and treated for depression.  This is up more than 10% for both disorders.  

While these numbers are alarming, when it comes to your own child, what should you know?Sometimes, it is difficult to decipher whether your student is showing initial signs of serious mental trouble, or he/she is now more comfortable asking for help to cope with the stress of competitive learning environment.  It is especially difficult when you are unable to see the day-to-day episodes of the mental breakdowns.

These are critical years.  More than 75% ** of major mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder start by age 24.  Often, most families, teachers, and friends recognize small changes that are not quite right, but find it difficult to help.  

Learning about early warning signs and taking action can not only reduce the severity of the illness, but also can possibly delay or prevent the illness altogether.  The longer you wait, the more reluctant your student will be able to solicit and accept help as the illness becomes more severe.  If you suspect your child is showing signs of serious mental trouble, don’t delay asking questions, researching, and seeking professional help.

Find out more about psychotic disorders and symptoms.

*WSJ, October 11, 2016
**American Psychiatric Association