If you’re the parent of a teen, you care about every aspect of their wellbeing. While physical health is usually apparent (it’s hard to hide a broken bone or the flu), teen mental health is often overlooked and misunderstood. Mental health in general, while becoming a more common topic of conversation, is still difficult for many families to conceptualize, talk about, and ultimately address if there is a need.
Mental health disorders are becoming increasingly common in teens. While they can range in severity, mental health disorders can impact the day-to-day quality of life for your teen and impair their ability to succeed in school, make friends, and enjoy their life. But how do you know if your teen is suffering from a mental health disorder?
Here, we’re reviewing some of the most common mental health disorders in teens. We’re also providing common symptoms of these disorders to enable parents to notice the red flags that could signal a mental health disorder. We also offer guidance for what you should do if you think your teen is experiencing a mental health disorder.
WHAT IS A MENTAL HEALTH DISORDER?
Everyone, especially those in their teen years, experiences mental challenges and mood swings. That’s simply part of life. However, when these mental hurdles become chronic and impact the quality of your life, this is when it becomes something much more serious. But what exactly is a mental health disorder?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a mental health disorder can be understood as an illness that “affects a person’s thinking, feeling, behavior, or mood.” While many individuals with mental health disorders may simply try to mask their symptoms, this is not an effective solution. Mental health disorders in teens can impact their performance in school, social relations, and even lead to serious consequences, such as self-harm. These are all reasons why you shouldn’t shy away from speaking about mental health with your teen. Let them know that you’re there to support them, and if necessary, help them find the help they need.
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses for teens. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 2 million teens in the United States experience diagnosed depression. This mental health condition can lead to isolation and anxiety and make it almost impossible to enjoy the people, places, and activities you once loved. If left untreated, depression can lead to thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
Symptoms of teen depression include:
· Intense bouts of sadness.
· Extreme sensitivity.
· Lack of interest in activities they used to enjoy.
· Thoughts of death and dying.
We all deal with anxiety throughout our lives. No matter your age, it can be difficult to manage stress and anxiety as you attempt to navigate your day-to-day. However, diagnosed anxiety in teens can make normal activities next to impossible. Anxiety can impact every facet of your life and lead to challenges in schools and social situations.
Symptoms of teen anxiety include:
· Panic attacks.
· Isolation from social events.
· Fear of making minor mistakes.
· Increased sensitivity.
· Changes in eating and sleeping patterns.
EATING DISORDERS IN TEENS
An eating disorder is an unhealthy relationship with food and eating that can lead to serious physical harm. The most common eating disorders that affect teens include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. While most people think that eating too little is the main characterization of an eating disorder, binge eating (eating a lot at one time) followed by purging can also be hazardous to your health.
Symptoms of eating disorders in teens include:
· Sudden weight loss.
· Strict dieting.
· Over exertion and intense physical exercise.
· Constantly concerned with weight and body image.
· Use of laxatives or diuretics.
· Disappearing after meals.
POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)
Even after the conclusion of a traumatic event, the effects and impact may not subside. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs when a person has difficulty recovering from a traumatic incident and is unable to return to their normal life and routines.
Symptoms of PTSD include:
· Recurring memories of the event.
· Flashback and troubling dreams.
· Emotional distress and anxiety.
· Lack of interest in people and activities.
· Trouble sleeping, concentrating, and focusing.
WHAT DO I DO IF MY TEEN HAS A MENTAL HEALTH DISORDER?
If you believe your teen is suffering from a mental health disorder, the first thing to remember is that you shouldn’t panic. Mental health disorders are common in people of all ages, especially teens, and this doesn’t mean your teen is “broken” or “disabled” in any way. Most cases of mental health disorders are very treatable.
The first step should be to start an open and honest conversation with your teen. Come from a place of love and understanding and let them know you simply want to help. If your teen agrees, you can then consider seeking professional help. You shouldn’t feel like you have to confront this issue all on your own. Mental health professionals can prescribe various treatment plans, such as talk therapy or medication, to help your teen manage their symptoms and return to the life they love.
CONCLUSION – COMMON MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS IN TEENS
Mental health can be a tricky subject to talk about, but this doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Every aspect of your teen’s health should be addressed and protected, even their mental health, which plays a critical role in enabling them to live a happy, productive, and successful life. A mental health disorder can affect anyone; however, since teens are already undergoing so much change and pressure on a daily basis, they are often the most vulnerable.
Doctors and specialists have classified many different mental health disorders that can affect teens. Some of the most common teen mental health disorders include depression, teen anxiety, eating disorders, and PTSD. Regardless of the mental health disorder or its severity, you shouldn’t lose hope. Most cases of mental illness are very treatable and doctors have developed a variety of treatment options that can help teens cope with their mental health disorder and live happy and fulfilling lives.