Keeping a watchful eye on your teen’s mental health is just as important as monitoring his or her physical health. Mental health issues often emerge during various tumultuous growth and change that accompany adolescence. During these years of transitioning, teens can easily get overwhelmed with all the pressures and issues they encounter. These factors often contribute to mental health disorders which can be life-threatening.
According to National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, about half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14. While adolescence isn’t an easy time for parents too, early intervention is important for successful treatment.
Common Mental Health Issues
Depression is one of the most common mental health issues among teenagers in the United States. Diagnoses of major depression have risen by 33% since 2013 according to a report from BCBS. The report also showed that the rate is rising faster among millenials – up by 47%.
Symptoms of depression in teens include low-self esteem, persistent low mood or sadness, loss of interest in regular activities, sleep issues, lack of energy and difficulty in concentrating.
Anorexia nervosa is the avoidance of food that often leads to starvation, metabolic collapse or suicide. It has the highest death rate of any mental illness – making it one of the most dangerous mental disorders that affect the teens.
Other teen eating disorders include bulimia and binge-eating disorder.
Common signs of teens with eating disorders are: changes in mood, anxiety, depression. Teens with eating disorders are also at risk of drug abuse and self-harm.
Apart from peer pressure, teens experiment with drugs and alcohol to self-medicate various mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and trauma. This makes substance use a dangerous coping mechanism for symptoms of teen mental illnesses.
Tips for Parents
- Communicate – Let your teens know that they can talk to you about anything. A constant and honest communication can give them comfort, knowing that they are not alone.
- Be Attentive – Give attention to your teen’s behavior. Severe and abrupt changes in behavior may indicate serious mental health issues.
- Seek Advice – Mental health disorders are treatable. If you are worried that your teen may have a mental disorder, address it by seeking professional help from a pediatrician, or adolescents psychiatrist who can advice proper treatment, therapy and/or medication. These treatments can make a big difference in your teen’s mental state and quality of life.