Anyone who is raising or has raised a teenager knows that the adolescent years are full of exhausting ups and downs. It can be hard to keep up with where your child is at in any given moment, and typically they feel all the drama they are putting everyone else through. The rollercoaster of the teenage years is infamous for it’s moody, cranky, and angst-ridden young people. As a parent, it can be hard to identify if what you child is experiencing is “typical teenage stuff” or if they are dealing with a mental health disorder on top of everything else. If you suspect your teen is struggling with more than the norm, it is likely to be one of the four listed here.
The National Institute of Mental Health Disorders has estimated that in children between the ages of 8-15, 3.7% have depression. Teen depression has similar symptoms to adult depression including overwhelming sadness, melancholy, and anger. However, teen depression often has the added piece of irritability and hostility. As with most mental health disorders, when caught young and treated, your teen has a much better chance of better quality of life as an adult. Keep a look out for these additional warning signs of teen depression:
- Consistent headaches or stomach aches
- Feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, or loneliness
- Extreme fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Frequent crying
- Suicidal thoughts or a preoccupation with death
Anxiety disorders like phobias, social anxiety, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are the second most common mental health disorders in teens. As before, the teen symptoms are similar to those in adults. OCD in teens can center around thoughts of 500 the same image or impulse. Anxious teens may appear highly uneasy, fearful, or withdrawn. Additionally, they can seem to be dramatically overly emotional, unresponsive or unrestrained.
There are three primary eating disorders commonly seen in teens; these include bulimia nervosa (BN), anorexia nervosa (AN), and body dysmorphia. Eating disorders are most often seen in young women though men can suffer from them as well. Bulimia is characterized by eating extreme amounts of food and then purging the body later by self-inflicted vomiting, excessive exercise, or laxative abuse. Anorexia involves tightly controlling the amount of food eaten or fasting leading to malnutrition and starvation. Signs of either disorder may include:
- Dramatic weight loss
- Going to the bathroom following each meal
- Thin, shallow, or frail appearance
- Obsession fear of weight gain
- Unnaturally unhappy and focused on their appearance
ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
ADHD affects between 8.6 to 9 percent of children between 8-17 years old. It is commonly marked by impulsiveness, hyperactivity, disorganization, and shortened attention span. ADHD seems to be more common in boys, and when diagnosed and treated early, it can be decreased by up to 50% into adulthood. When young people suffer from ADHD, they typically become bored quickly; they can be disruptive, and struggle to concentrate even for short periods of time.
If you are concerned about your teen and want to talk to someone, we are here for you.
Remember you are not the only parent to worry about your teen. You are not alone. Your teen is not the first one to need help, and they are not alone. We are here to help.