Common Mental Health Disorders in Teens

The teenage years, also called adolescence, are the time for puberty changes and growth spurts. During this transition period from childhood to adulthood, teens go through many physical, mental, and social changes. No wonder they suffer from a host of mental health issues. 

Worldwide, one in seven 10 to 19-year-olds suffer from mental health conditions. Parental depression, increased stress, fear and anxiety, and family conflict are said to be the risk factors for mental health disorders in teens. 

Further, the pandemic has worsened the mental health of adolescents. A recent NIH study discovered a link between the COVID-19 pandemic and worsened mental health in adolescents. 

In this article, we’ll shed light on some of the common mental health disorders in teens. Continue reading, then! 

#1 Anxiety Disorders 

Over seven percent of adolescents aged between 13 and 17 years have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders, according to an article by the American Family Physician. 

Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive distress and fear that interfere with an individual’s ability to function in a normal manner. An adolescent experiencing anxiety disorder may feel worried, on edge, or restless to such an extent that it affects their personal relationships as well as schoolwork. 

High expectations, peer pressure, interactions with others on social media, and hormonal changes cause anxiety disorders in adolescents. 

Managing Teen Anxiety

Here are a few things you can do to manage anxiety in your adolescence: 

  • Encourage your adolescent to exercise daily. 
  • Limit high-fat diets and sugary foods because they exacerbate anxiety. Instead, persuade them to eat healthy. 
  • Teach your teen relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, and breathing exercises. 

#2 Depression

The second most common psychiatric disorder that affects adolescents is depression. 

A descriptive analysis of depression among adolescents in Huangshi, China, revealed that depression affects four to five percent of adolescents annually all over the world. 

Researchers also found that the situation was much worse in China and the United States. The prevalence rates of adolescent depressive symptoms in the two countries were 24.6% and 12%, respectively. 

School, family, social, dwelling environment, and genetic and psychological factors are believed to contribute to depression. More adolescent females develop depression than male adolescents. The gender difference might be related to their hormones, such as progesterone and estradiol, which are sexual hormones. 

Long-term bullying or academic issues, peer problems, obesity, abusing nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs, and learning disability or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are risk factors for depression in adolescents. 

Researchers have identified social media use as a key risk factor for depression. Heavy Facebook and Instagram use could also trigger depression in teens. 

A recent NBC News article disclosed that U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warns people that social media is a major contributor to depression. The surgeon issued a warning about social media use after rates of depression have increased dramatically in the last decade, especially in girls. 

Reportedly, depression rates are high among teenage and young adult users who spend the most time on Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms than those who spend less time. 

In its recent feature, the Guardian reports that 33 states have sued Instagram and its parent company, Meta, for allegedly endangering the mental health of the youth. Plaintiffs in the Instagram lawsuit assert that Meta has harnessed unprecedented and powerful technologies to lure, engage, and entrap teens and youth. 

Further, the suit alleges that Meta has actively worked to maximize teens’ social media usage, despite knowing that teenage minds are vulnerable to the need for validation through likes from other users.

Instagram users who become involved in social comparison and status-seeking content suffer from unhealthy self-centeredness and depressive symptoms at much higher rates, observes TorHoerman Law. While no settlement has been made yet, Instagram users can receive anywhere between $10,000 and over $100,000. 

Helping Your Teen With Depression

Here’s how you can help your teen struggling with depression:

  • Encourage your teen child to stay active by involving them in household chores 
  • Ten to fifteen minutes of physical activity can have a positive effect on their mood, so motivate them for a short walk
  • Junk food is a big no-no! Instead, give them a nutritious meal
  • Seek help from a mental health professional 

#3 Eating Disorder

Eating disorders– bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorder– often start in adolescence. The latest findings reveal that the pandemic has worsened eating disorders in teens, especially girls. 

Teens suffering from bulimia nervosa binge eat food and then purge to get rid of extra calories. Meanwhile, adolescents with anorexia nervosa have an excessive fear of gaining weight, so they eat an extremely low-calorie diet. Binge-eating disorder is characterized by chronic, compulsive overeating. 

Detecting eating disorders in teens is challenging. However, certain symptoms can help you identify this condition. These include food binges, severe restriction of certain foods, and purging behaviors like overexercising and vomiting. 

Helping Your Teen Overcome Eating Disorder

Here’s how you can help your teen overcome eating disorder:

  • Restricting food is a big no-no! Instead, encourage healthy eating habits at home
  • Foster self-love and acceptance
  • Avoid negative talk and criticism
  • Consider therapy

Wrapping Up

Pinpointing mental health conditions in teens is tricky, even for experts. That’s mainly because their brain is still developing, and behavior and mood fluctuate wildly at this age. 

Struggling with concentration, experiencing irritability, and becoming fatigued easily are some signs to watch out for. If you notice any such sign, your teen is suffering from a mental health condition. 

Mental health disorders could have serious, long-term consequences if left untreated. Seek professional support right away, as that will help them learn how to manage their symptoms. Consequently, they will be able to lead happy, healthy lives. 

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