Is it simply a bout of the blues or severe depression? Is it just a temper tantrum or a serious behavior problem? For parents, the line between growing pains and a serious mental disorder is often fuzzy. Here's how to recognize when your child has crossed the line.
A walk in the park is not how Marykaye Henline describes life with son Christopher. Despite friends reminding her that all boys are a handful, she knew something was wrong.
At age 5, Marykaye took Christopher to get professional help. Starting at 4 months old, he refused to sleep alone. In preschool, he defied teachers and beat up classmates. Christopher demands constant attention. When he doesn't get it, he throws up.
"He went after a babysitter with a knife one time," Marykaye tells Ivanhoe. "He repeatedly has dreams that he'll tell you are very vivid about dismembering family members."
"The belief systems -- the thinking -- are absolutely irrational. When they say, 'I'm going to kill you,' they have a plan," Tobias, who is known as Dr. Bunni, tells Ivanhoe.
If the mood swings from extreme anger or sadness to extreme silliness, it could be bipolar disorder. Psychiatrist Demitri Papolos, M.D., says symptoms are often present at birth.
"[Warning signs can be seen in] bright-eyed babies of the nursery, oversensitive, over-reactive to sensory stimuli, easily aroused," says Dr. Papolos, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.
"Yeah, yeah there was a lot of times when that happened and I did, I did give up, you know," says Naz. The signs were there by second grade -- class disruptions, bad grades, loss of friends.
Naz's father, Kali, says, "She would be so tired and frustrated she wouldn't want to deal with me or her sister even."
Unconditional love from dad and therapy finally gave Naz her confidence back -- and her smile.