FACTS PARENTS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS IN TEENS

  1. It’s normal for teenagers to be moody at times. But when are an adolescent’s mood swings a sign of something more—like mental illness?
  2. Mental illness is more common in teens than you think. But many types of mental illness are treatable, and it’s just a matter of pinpointing the diagnosis.

Here are few facts about mental illness in teens that parents should be aware of.

  1. Physicians define “mental illness” differently than most of us do
  2. Physicians look at specific criteria in order to determine if a person has a mental illness.
  3. For a person to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, physicians generally look for depressed mood or a lack of interest in hobbies or recreational activities.
  4. However, in teens, these signs might show up as changes in their grades, a disinterest in friends, or out-of-character irritability.

The following symptoms are also required for diagnosis:

  1. Changes in sleep
  2. New onset of guilt
  3. Changes in energy level
  4. Changes in concentration or task completion
  5. Changes in appetite
  6. Changes in motivation
  7. Thoughts of suicide
  8. If a person has experienced five of those symptoms nearly every day, for at least two weeks, he or she might be diagnosed with major depressive disorder.
  9. If your teen has occasional episodes of anger or stays out late sometimes, it’s probably not a reason to be worried.
  10. On the other hand, if those feelings persist and there are other unusual symptoms, it’s probably a good idea to talk to your doctor.
  11. There are a few common types of mental illness in teens

The most common mental illnesses in teens are:

  1. Generalized anxiety—Excessive worry about everyday matters
  2. Social phobias—Severe feelings of self-consciousness and insecurity in social settings
  3. Depression—Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, and/or emptiness
  4. Teens suffer from depression or lost interest or pleasure in other activities
  5. Could not function normally, having trouble with things like sleep, energy, or concentration
  6. Warning signs of mental illness in teens vary depending on the condition
  7. For most kids, one of the tell-tale signs is going to be a decline in grades, but there are other warning signs, as well.
  8. Changes in social habits including pulling away from school, friends, and activities that your child has enjoyed participating in in the past could be another warning sign.
  9. Generalized anxiety, social phobias, and depression also have their own unique symptoms.

Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:

  1. Feeling restless, wound up, or on edge
  2. Becoming fatigued easily
  3. Struggling with concentration
  4. Experiencing irritability
  5. Feeling muscle tension
  6. Having difficulty keeping worry levels under control
  7. Struggling with sleep, such as difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep, or not feeling well-rested
  8. Social anxiety disorder symptoms include:
  9. Feeling very anxious at the thought of being around others, and struggling to talk to other people
  10. Experiencing extreme self-consciousness and fear of humiliation, embarrassment, rejection, or offending people
  11. Worrying about being judged
  12. Feeling anxious days or even weeks ahead of a social event
  13. Avoiding places where other people will be
  14. Struggling to make and keep friends
  15. Blushing, sweating, or trembling around others
  16. Experiencing nausea around other people
  17. And signs of depression include:
  18. Feeling persistently sad, anxious, or empty
  19. Experiencing hopelessness or pessimism
  20. Struggling with irritability
  21. Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
  22. Losing interest in hobbies or activities that used to be enjoyable
  23. Struggling with fatigue or lack of energy
  24. Moving and/or talking more slowly than usual
  25. Feeling restless
  26. Struggling with concentration, memory, and/or decision-making
  27. Experiencing unexplained changes in appetite or weight
  28. Having thoughts of death or suicide
  29. Unexplained aches or pains that don’t go away when treated
  30. While at least some of these symptoms generally have to be present for several weeks or months before an accurate diagnosis can be made, sometimes, even just 2 weeks’ worth of symptoms is enough to consider a diagnosis.
  31. A teen’s primary care doctor can make the diagnosis
  32. During an initial appointment to screen for mental illness, the doctor might ask:
  33. What are the symptoms the teen is displaying?
  34. What are the parents worried about?
  35. Does the teen have any concerns?
  36. If the doctor isn’t comfortable making a diagnosis on their own, they can usually recommend a psychologist or psychiatrist.
  37. There are ways to manage mental illness in teens
  38. There are a range of options for treating mental illness in teens, including:
  39. Identifying stressors, such as not getting enough sleep, skipping meals, or generally lacking a day-to-day routine—and remedying them
  40. Counseling, which is often paired with medications
  41. Mental illness in teens is more common than people think—but also very treatable by homeoahy
  42. Mental illness is preventable. However, in most cases, parents don’t bring the child in until after issues have been going on for months and months because they are in denial. Most parents feel that, “It can’t possibly be what’s happening to my child.”
  43. You should talk to your teen if you’re concerned.
Anxious parents often have anxious children, study shows - Deseret News
Anxiety disorders: pre-teens & teenagers | Raising Children Network

If your teen seems stressed or if there’s been a significant change in their behavior it’s best to address it in conversation with them first. It may not necessarily mean a psychiatric diagnosis like depression or anxiety, but it could still be a sign that there is something going on in their life that is acting as some type of stressor.

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