Many mental health conditions can begin to show distinct signs in the early stages of development for a child, but many remain undetected and untreated. It is estimated that one in five teenagers has a diagnosable mental health disorder such as anxiety, eating disorder, or depression. Identifying teenage mental health concerns can be difficult as this is a stage of development where biological changes may cause children to appear distressed and emotional during this time. At Spectrum Behavioral Health, we are here to help educate caregivers and parents about common adolescent mental health disorders, signs, and treatment options.
An Impressionable Age
Adolescence is often described as the period between 10-19 years old and as stated above, can be a difficult time as children move through various stages of growth and development. Multiple physical, emotional, social, hormonal, and intellectual changes can make children vulnerable to a variety of mental health conditions.
This is a crucial period in development, children build habits that are essential for their mental well-being such as problem-solving, developing coping skills, interpersonal skills, and learning to manage their emotions.
There can be multiple outside factors that can impress upon your child’s mental health such as peer pressure, technology, exploration of sexual identity, media influence, gender norms, and relationships. There are also other factors such as the quality of their home life, genetics, and access to support.
For these reasons, it is important to keep communication with your children open. They should feel comfortable discussing anything with you regardless of the topic. Be honest about your own experiences and fears during your adolescence and let them know that they are not alone. It is also important to be attentive to your teen’s behavior. Though adolescence can be a time of confusion and emotions, any dramatic or abrupt changes may indicate a mental health concern.
Common mental health disorders in adolescents include
- Anxiety – Feelings of distress, worry, and anxiety that become overwhelming and disruptive and do not subside easily may reflect an anxiety disorder.
- Depression – A period of low mood that lasts several weeks regardless of the situation may be a sign. Look for excessive moodiness, fluctuations in weight, expressions of hopelessness or worthlessness, isolation, detachment, and sleep dysfunction.
- Eating Disorders – Noticeable changes in eating habits, binging food, purging (forced vomiting) and an obsession with body image and weight may be indications of an eating disorder.
- Substance Abuse – Peer pressure and mental concerns can lead adolescents to experience with alcohol and drugs. Behavioral or physical changes or evidence of drugs and alcohol may be signs of substance abuse.
Other mental health conditions commonly diagnosed and experienced in adolescents include trauma and post-traumatic-stress disorder (PTSD), personality disorders, and schizophrenia.
Many mental health conditions can manifest themselves physically, your concerns may first be noticed and addressed by your child’s doctor or pediatrician. Your child’s doctor may offer both an initial medical assessment and a referral to a mental health professional. Treatment for mental health disorders will vary depending on the condition but may include various forms of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes as well as coping skills to help manage symptoms.
For more information on adolescent mental health conditions and our services or to schedule an appointment, please contact our office.