Teens and Mental Health
The teenage years are tough ones. Our emotions were strong, and so were our fears and anxieties. That’s how things are for everyone, right?
Well, yes and no. There are certainly things that are tough about being a teen no matter who you are. But some people have it worse. For some, the anxieties, fears, and low moments of teenage life are more than just the result of hormones. For some, real health issues (such as imbalances in brain chemistry) come into play.
Especially as a parent, it can be hard to see mental health issues in a child, or to understand those issues if you do see them. Here’s what you should know.
Teenagers are vulnerable to mental health issues
Mental illness can be difficult for some people to understand. It’s hard to see mental illness in the way that we can see physical illness. Mental illness is surely physiological, but we also know that factors from the outside world can affect how our brains work, so this isn’t just brain chemistry at work in a vacuum.
It’s hard to say if teenagers always suffered from a high rate of mental illness. It’s possible, but until relatively recently, we haven’t had an advanced enough understanding of mental health to take the appropriate measurements.
What we do know is that, right now, about 20 percent of young people suffer from a mental illness of some kind. That includes both serious cases (in which the individual’s daily life is significantly disrupted) and less serious ones. And if that seems high, consider this: the same number of adults (20 percent) suffer from mental illness too.
Common mental health issues with teens and children include depression and anxiety (which are also the most common issues among adults), as well as mood disorders and phobias, to name a few examples.
Identifying mental health issues in your teen
One of the scary things about mental health issues is the fact that they are so hard to detect. Still, there are things that parents can look for in order to spot potential mental health issues in their children.
The symptoms of depression include a loss of joy, a loss of energy, apathy, memory loss, and even physical pain. Look for signs that your child may be losing interest in the things that they once loved. Look for loss of appetite, the inability to make decisions, and a preoccupation with death or dying. All of these things could be signs of depression.
Look at your child’s behavior at home and at school. If they are acting out and getting in trouble with school authorities or with the law, that could be a sign of a mental health issue.
Getting help for mental health issues with your teen
If you think something is going on with your teen, the best thing you can do is reach out to a professional. Mental health is complicated, but there are talented people who train for years in order to offer you the best possible options and treatments. Your child could be helped enormously by talk therapy, medication, or a visit to an inpatient program, explain the experts at Polaris Teen Center Los Angeles.
Helping your teen isn’t easy, but if you can convince them to head to a pro, you’ll be helping them enormously. If they won’t go, you should still go yourself: therapy can give you valuable strategies for setting boundaries and helping your child.
Teenage mental health issues can be extremely difficult, but your teen is not alone. Many others have gone through similar issues, and many more will in the future. Meanwhile, right here in the present, there are trained and talented mental health professionals who will do whatever they can to help you and your child.