The teenage years are a really important time of growing and changing, with lots of physical, emotional, and social changes happening. These changes can sometimes be tough and lead to mental health problems.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that about 1 in 7 teenagers have a mental health problem each year, and depression is one of the most common. Recognizing the signs and seeking help early can make a significant difference.
Here’s a brief understanding of adolescent mental health, common mental health problems of adolescents, and identifying signs of mental health problems and seeking help.
Understanding Adolescent Mental Health
Adolescent mental health refers to the emotional, psychological, and social well-being of individuals aged between 10-19 years. It is a crucial aspect of overall health as it impacts how adolescents think, feel, and act.
It also influences their ability to handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.
Common Mental Health Issues in Adolescents
Teenagers can experience a variety of mental health issues, regardless of their background. Some of the most prevalent include:
- Depression: This isn’t just about feeling sad or having a bad time. It’s a serious mental health condition that requires understanding and medical treatment.
- Anxiety Disorders: Teenagers with these disorders often respond to certain situations with extreme fear and dread, accompanied by physical symptoms like a rapid heartbeat and sweating.
- Eating Disorders: These involve intense feelings, attitudes, and behaviors related to weight and food.
- Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): This is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in childhood and can persist into adulthood.
In some cases, teenagers might also exhibit conduct disorders characterized by depression, suicidal behavior, and poor relationships with peers and adults.
Identifying Signs of Mental Health Issues
Recognizing the signs of mental health issues can be challenging. However, the following signs may indicate a possible mental health issue:
Persistent Feelings of Sadness or Hopelessness
This could indicate depression. Adolescents may seem unhappy most of the time, cry often, or express feelings of emptiness and despair.
Constant Anger or Overreaction to Situations
This might be a sign of emotional instability or a mood disorder. Teens might have frequent outbursts of anger, struggle to control their temper, or react excessively to minor problems.
An Overwhelming Fear for No Reason, Resulting in Constant Worry and Anxiety
This could suggest an anxiety disorder. Teens may feel intense, irrational fear about everyday situations, which can interfere with daily activities.
Significant Changes in Eating or Sleeping Habits
Dramatic shifts in your adolescent’s eating or sleeping patterns, such as insomnia, excessive sleeping, avoiding food, or overeating, could be indicative of various mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or eating disorders.
Trouble focusing on tasks at school, home, or elsewhere might be a sign of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or other mental health conditions.
Physical Harm to Oneself or Expressing a Desire To Do So
Self-harming behavior or the talk of suicide is a serious warning sign of severe distress, often associated with depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions.
Using drugs like opioids or alcohol to cope can be a sign of underlying mental health issues. It’s important to address this behavior as it can lead to addiction and other health problems.
Losing Interest in Things Once Enjoyed
This could be a sign of depression or other mood disorders. Teens may lose interest in hobbies, sports, or other activities they used to enjoy.
Spending More and More Time Alone and Avoiding Social Interactions
Withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities can indicate a variety of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety disorders. Increased isolation can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and despair.
Remember, these signs are not definitive proof of a mental health disorder, but they suggest that an adolescent may be struggling. If you notice these symptoms in your teenager, it’s important to seek help from their pediatrician.
A pediatrician can perform comprehensive screening and identify adolescent mental health issues early. They can also equip you and your teens with strategies to manage mental health challenges and provide referrals to mental health specialists when needed.
Adolescent Medicine in Tuckahoe, NY
Mental health issues aren’t exclusive to adults, they’re a reality for many adolescents, too. Recognizing and addressing these issues early is crucial to ensure your child’s healthy development.
At Village Pediatric Group in Tuckahoe, New York, we provide comprehensive mental and behavioral health services tailored to the unique needs of adolescents. Our compassionate team is committed to supporting your child’s mental well-being by utilizing proven therapeutic approaches, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotherapy.
For more information or to schedule a consultation, call us today at (914) 771-7070 or fill out our online appointment request form. We look forward to serving you!