The teenage years are notoriously difficult, with mood swings, challenging behavior and an increasing desire for independence all being common issues that parents face. However, there is a stark difference between a hormonal teenager who is simply lashing out and asserting their right to freedom and a teenager who is experiencing a serious mental health problem.
Shockingly, 50% of all mental health problems start by the age of 14, yet most cases are left undetected and untreated. Therefore, it is vital that you, as a parent, can recognize the signs of the most common mental illnesses in teenagers, so you can support your child if needed. Keep reading to discover the most common mental health problems that teenagers face today and how you can help them.
Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder normally manifest themselves during adolescence and young adulthood. Girls are significantly more susceptible to these mental health problems, but there is a growing number of boys who are also affected. Although there is no one cause of an eating disorder, there are factors that can increase your child’s risk of developing an eating disorder, such as genetics, psychological problems and family relationships, as well as peer and societal pressures.
Signs that your teenager may be suffering from an eating disorder can include:
- Skipping meals
- Unusual eating habits
- Extreme weight change, either gaining or losing
- A distorted body image
- Loss of hair, poor nail quality and tooth erosion
- High interest in working out
If you suspect that your teen is suffering from an eating disorder, then you should seek medical advice as they could become very unwell extremely quickly. A specialized treatment center like edentreatment.com can offer you invaluable advice and support and can also create a personalized treatment and recovery plan.
Anxiety disorders can be difficult for a parent to identify as everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. However, if your teenager is experiencing an anxiety disorder as opposed to experiencing normal anxiety, they will need help to overcome this.
There are several different types of anxiety disorders that can affect your teenager in a different way:
- OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. If your teenager is suffering from OCD, they are likely to act compulsively to try and relieve their anxieties. OCD sufferers often become obsessed with carrying out certain tasks multiple times.
- Phobias. Again, most people have a few phobias. However, if your teenager has an intense fear of something that is not actually dangerous, then this could be a sign that they are struggling with anxiety.
- General anxiety. This is the most common anxiety disorder and normally manifests itself in the sufferer worrying excessively about certain aspects of their life.
- Social anxiety. If your teenager becomes extremely anxious in social situations, often with an inability to communicate with others, then they could be suffering from social anxiety.
- Panic attacks. Panic attacks can be incredibly frightening for a teenager, with common physical symptoms including a pounding heart, difficulty breathing, dizziness and numbness.
You may think that your teenager is simply acting moodily, but depression can have a seriously detrimental impact on your teen’s health; in worst-case scenarios, it can lead to attempted suicide. Thankfully, awareness around this disease has increased exponentially over the last few years, and the services available to your teenager to help them overcome this mental health problem are much more readily available.
Signs that your teenager may be experiencing depression include:
- Feelings of sadness and/or hopelessness
- Anger or hostility
- Frequent crying
- Withdrawing from family, friends and school life
- Loss of interest in their hobbies
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Changes in eating habits
- Lack of enthusiasm for everyday life
- Lack of energy
- Lack of concentration
- Expressing thoughts about death and/or suicide
If you suspect that your teenager is suffering from any of the above mental health issues, it is important that you seek advice from a medical professional and ensure that you have an open line of communication with your teen so that they feel supported and loved.