The Most Common Mental Health Disorders in Teens
When children reach their teenage years, there’s a lot happening in their bodies. Hormones are running rampant. Emotions are high. They are coming into their sexuality and their personality. They have a lot of stress, even when they don’t need to. During this period of development, mental health starts to become a significant factor.
The teen years and early adulthood is when dormant disorders arise. While the stigmatization of mental health has led to inadequate treatments, today we are being more honest about the reality of it all. Here are the most common mental health disorders in teens and how they can be treated.
One of the most common mental health issues is anxiety. It’s not an emotion but a disorder that impacts many people. During the years of adolescence, anxiety comes to the surface. A kid might not even know they are anxious. Anxiety is difficult to categorize. It’s not an emotion, but a feeling. That feeling can be very detrimental to the overall health and productivity of that teen.
There’s good news, there are a lot of ways to mitigate symptoms of anxiety. First, it’s important for the person to make sure they are getting enough sleep at night. Then, make sure they are exercising enough. Encourage them to practice mindfulness techniques like meditation. Of course, medications are available, but they should only be started when there are no other options.
Depression goes hand in hand with anxiety. Depression can make people feel anxious and anxiety will make them feel overwhelmed, leading to depression. Depression is not the same as anxiety in any sense, though. It’s not being sad either. It is when a person cannot feel joy and can’t get the motivation to do basic things. Depression can be extremely physical.
If the teen is always sleeping, unmotivated, negative, and despondent, they could be going through depression. Getting outside to exercise and practicing mindfulness help depression too, but if it isn’t hormonal sadness or a period of struggle, depression might require medication. Be careful with these medications, though. They have plenty of side effects.
Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder
More common than one might think, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) is difficult for teens to live with. What is DMDD? It is a psychiatric disorder that leads to outburst, frequent anger, chronic irritability, and the incapability to be content.
A lot of people dismiss teens with DMDD as bad eggs or difficult to deal with, but really, it’s a chemical imbalance in their brains. This can have a huge impact on their lives, especially when there is a co-occurring disorder like ADHD, OCD, depression, or anxiety. One of the most important things is to test for it because a lot of people simply decide their child is angry.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive compulsive disorder, which is known as OCD, is one of the most difficult mental health issues to treat because it is so vague. There is no defined reason that OCD occurs and there are few treatments made specifically for it.
OCD is the combination of obsessions, compulsions, and the anxiety that surrounds them. It can be treated with EMDR, eye movement desensitization reprocessing, exposure therapy, or a cocktail of medications. When a teen has been diagnosed with OCD, it’s a good thing that they didn’t find out later.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
A lot has been learned about the spectrum of ADHD in the last decade. No longer is ADHD a single disorder. It used to be that there was attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but now the science approaches the disorder as many conditions. There can be just hyperactivity disorder or a combination of attention deficit and hyperactivity. As more research develops, we will find new ways to treat ADHD beyond the standard medications.
The teenage years aren’t more prone to mental health disorders, it’s when these disorders first show themselves. For most kids, they had a condition that was dormant and as they grow older and their hormones change the symptoms arise. While it may not feel great to live with one of these conditions, especially if you are a teen or a parent of one, it is better to understand the diagnosis early and tackle it with more treatments than medication. It will set the teenager up for the rest of their life.