Altacare of Montana is a Comprehensive School and Community Treatment Program (CSCT) for schools throughout Montana. A behavioral intervention specialist and a Therapist work within schools, side by side with children in elementary, middle and high schools.
Depression is a mental health condition that affects both adults and children alike. Known as a mood disorder, this condition causes periods of low mood beyond what might be considered sadness or a case of “the blues.” Depressive episodes can last for varying lengths of time and can affect each young person in different ways.
It can sometimes be difficult to discern whether a child is experiencing clinical depression or displaying developmentally appropriate “moodiness” that is a natural reaction to hormonal fluctuations that happen during puberty. While it’s always best to seek a diagnosis from a mental health professional who specializes in treating young people, there are a few things to keep in mind about depression in adolescence. Without proper treatment, a child who has depression will not be able to function to potential at home, work, or school. They will struggle with self-esteem, peer relationships, motivation, and family dynamics. Like other forms of mental illness, depression is a progressive disease, meaning that it will get worse over time.
Fortunately, depression is highly treatable with the right support, and your child can recover from depressive symptoms. Altacare is here to partner with parents, schools, and other providers across Montana to offer school-based services to young people who are battling mental and behavioral health concerns.
Bipolar disorder is a form of mental illness that is characterized by significant changes in mood and energy.
Children and adolescents who develop bipolar disorder will experience periods of elevated activity, energy, and impulsivity. These experiences are known as manic or hypomanic episodes. Young people who have bipolar disorder will also have times of diminished energy, lowered self-esteem, and pervasive sadness. These are known as depressive episodes.
The three most common types of bipolar disorder are bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, and cyclothymic disorder. These forms of bipolar disorder are defined by the nature and frequency of manic, hypomanic, and depressive episodes that a young person experiences.
Since childhood and adolescence involve times of great change and emotional extremes, it can be difficult for a non-clinician to differentiate between developmentally appropriate behaviors and symptoms of bipolar disorder. Thus, any parent who suspects that their son or daughter may be struggling with bipolar disorder should arrange for an evaluation by a certified mental health professional.
The good news is that bipolar disorder is a treatable condition. If your child has been struggling with bipolar disorder, effective professional care can be extremely beneficial. With the right type and level of treatment for bipolar disorder, your son or daughter can make significant progress toward a much healthier and more satisfying future.
Anxiety disorders are mental health conditions that can affect both young people and adults alike. However, anxiety may manifest and present itself differently in children and teens than it does in adults. Anxiety involves persistent fear or nervousness that is disproportionate to the situation at hand, or that does not have a known cause. It is experienced as mental and physical symptoms that will significantly impede a child’s or adolescent’s ability to learn and grow.
Left untreated, anxiety can make it hard for a child to make and keep healthy peer relationships and access educational opportunities, and it can cause physical health impairments as well. Not to be confused with shyness, anxiety is a pervasive experience that often results in a child not wanting to go to school or engage in activities that they once enjoyed. Anxiety can cause a child to report somatic complaints like nausea, stomach pain, and headaches, and it can negatively impact eating and sleeping habits.
Fortunately, anxiety disorders are highly treatable conditions. With help from the experienced mental health professionals at Altacare, your child can learn to manage their symptoms and enjoy the vibrant childhood they so deserve.
Posttraumatic stress disorder, which is commonly referred to as PTSD, is a type of mental illness that occurs in the aftermath of one or more traumatic events. PTSD can affect individuals of all ages, including children and adolescents.
Examples of the types of trauma that can precede PTSD in children or adolescents include physical or emotional abuse, sexual assault, neglect, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, death of a parent or other significant individual, automobile accidents, and serious illnesses.
When a young person directly or indirectly experiences trauma, they may respond with a range of emotions. Temporary feelings of sadness, fear, anxiety, guilt, or even shame are common responses among those who have survived or witnessed a traumatic event. These responses are normal reactions to horrific situations. If they do not last for an extended length of time or cause undue emotional anguish, such emotions do not indicate a problem.
However, in many cases, children or adolescents who have lived through trauma develop persistent distressing symptoms. They may develop overwhelming fear or anxiety. They may have trouble sleeping, and have nightmares when they are able to sleep. They may begin to engage in violent or otherwise dangerous behaviors. These and other signs may indicate that a young person has developed PTSD.
Posttraumatic stress disorder can have a profound negative impact on a young person’s life. But it is a treatable condition. When a child or adolescent receives effective professional treatment for PTSD, they can learn to manage their symptoms, regain control of their behaviors, and once again live a happier and healthier life.
Parent-child Relational Problems
At Altacare, we understand the challenges that so often accompany parenting a child who suffers from mental, emotional, or behavioral concerns. Our experienced providers know what it’s like to have profound love for your child but to be at your wit’s end when it comes to their behavior. We know that while your child’s treatment needs are paramount, you as a parent also need support in order to play an active role in your child’s recovery.
We also know that this experience can leave you feeling very alone. From the moment you start to observe symptoms in your child, you may feel isolated, frustrated, and worried about your child’s future. If you have other children in the home, you may also be fearful of how your child’s symptoms might be impacting their well-being. But throughout this difficult time, know that there is hope for recovery. With support from Altacare, you can get the therapeutic care you need to heal your relationship with your child.