Mental Health Treatment for Teens
Mental Health Disorders are psychological conditions marked by seriously impaired psychological and social functioning. Adolescents diagnosed with severe Mental Health Disorders are often unable to function effectively at home or in the community. Mental health disorders sometimes consist of a combination of affective, behavioral, cognitive, and perceptual components.
Recognizing Mental Health Disturbances in Teens
Signs and symptoms of mental illness can vary widely depending on the particular disorder and other factors. Mental illness affects both physical and mental health.
The following is a list of common behavioral/emotional symptoms of mental illness:
- Mood swings
- Out of control rage
- Self-deprecating statements
- Distorted thoughts
- Past trauma
- Excessive worry
- Demobilizing fears
- Eating/sleeping impairments
- Academic decline
- Social impairments
- Sexual acting out
Physical Symptoms of Mental Illness
When your teenager is experiencing a mental illness there are also physical symptoms that appear, that can help you better identify what mental illness your child is experiencing.
- Back pain
- Chest pain
- Digestive problems
- Dry mouth
- Weight gain or loss
- Rapid heart rate
These are just some of the common signs of mental illness among teenagers. Adolescent Growth offers a variety of clinical programs that treat the core of your teen’s mental illness.
Is it Really Mental Illness?
It can be difficult to gauge whether the symptoms you are seeing are a sign of a mental illness or not. Symptoms differ from person to person and across different cultures as well. Whether or not something is considered “abnormal” can depend greatly on the individual.
In general, the signs and symptoms you are seeing may indicate a mental illness when they interfere with quality of life. If your teen is unhappy, unable to function in their daily life, or unable to cope with normal life stressors, then it is time to consider getting help. Oftentimes the teen will be able to articulate their distress and discomfort. However, with some conditions such as Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia, friends, and family members may be the first to notice that the teen is struggling with mood and behavioral problems.
If your teenager is displaying some of these signs and symptoms and is struggling in school, interpersonal relationships or at home, then it is time to see a doctor. You can go straight to a mental health professional or visit your child’s general practitioner for a referral. Most mental illnesses don’t improve on their own and, if left untreated, may get worse over time.
If an adolescent is feeling suicidal but he or she isn’t immediately thinking of hurting themselves:
- Allow the adolescent to reach out to a close friend or loved one, even if they may be reluctant to talk about their feelings.
- Seek help from a doctor, a mental health provider or other health care professional.
- Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone in your faith community.
If an Adolescent Has Suicidal Thoughts
Sadly, suicidal thoughts and behaviors are common with some mental illnesses. If you think your adolescent is at risk of hurting themselves or attempting suicide get help right away:
- Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
- Call a suicide hotline number.
- In the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by excessive worrying and fear. Persons suffering from this disorder experience a disproportionately high amount of anxiety such that it interferes with their day-to-day functioning. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is mentally and physically exhausting.
Bipolar Disorder is a condition in which the sufferer alternates between periods of increased activity wherein their mood is extremely happy (almost euphoric) and periods of depression. Sometimes these mood swings occur very rapidly. Bipolar Disorder affects boys and girls equally. Signs and symptoms usually begin to appear between the ages of 15 and 25. The exact cause of Bipolar Disorder is unknown, but it is more common in families with a history of the illness.
Major Depression is a mood disorder that is characterized by low mood and sadness, frustration and anger and impaired day-to-day functioning. For a diagnosis to be made, this mood state must last for an extended period of time (at least two weeks). Major Depression is a serious impairment that requires professional help. It is most often treated with a combination of medications known as antidepressants (SSRI’s, MAOI’s etc.) and talk therapy. Most sufferers of depression who are properly treated will make a full recovery.