Mood swings are normal for teenagers, but when should you be concerned that they may be a sign of a mental illness?
Mental illness is more common in teenagers than you might think, but many types are treatable. The most important thing is to get a diagnosis so that your child can receive the support they need.
As a parent, it’s important to be aware of these 6 facts about mental illness in teens:
Common mental illnesses in teens
The most common mental illnesses in teens are:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive worry about everyday matters. Teens with GAD may worry about their grades, their social life, their health, or the future. They may have difficulty controlling their worries and may experience physical symptoms of anxiety, such as headaches, stomachaches, and difficulty sleeping.
- Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterized by severe feelings of self-consciousness and insecurity in social settings. Teens with SAD may feel anxious about being judged or criticized by others. They may avoid social situations altogether or may experience intense anxiety when they are in social situations.
- Depression is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, and/or emptiness. Teens with depression may lose interest in activities they used to enjoy, have difficulty sleeping or concentrating, and may experience changes in their appetite or weight. They may also have negative thoughts about themselves and the world around them.
Physicians define mental illness in a more specific way than most people.
To diagnose a teen with major depressive disorder, physicians look for depressed mood or lack of interest in hobbies. But these signs might show up as changes in grades, disinterest in friends, or irritability.
If a teen has at least one of these symptoms, doctors will assess additional criteria. To be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, a teen must also have at least five of the following symptoms:
- Changes in sleep
- New onset of guilt
- Changes in energy level
- Changes in concentration or task completion
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in motivation
- Thoughts of suicide
If your teen has occasional episodes of anger or stays out late sometimes, it’s probably not a reason to be worried. But if these feelings persist and there are other unusual symptoms, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor.
Warning signs of mental illness in teens
One of the most common warning signs of mental illness in teens is a decline in grades. Other warning signs include:
- Changes in social habits, such as pulling away from school, friends, and activities that your child used to enjoy.
- Generalized anxiety disorder symptoms:
- Feeling restless, wound up, or on edge
- Becoming fatigued easily
- Struggling with concentration
- Experiencing irritability
- Feeling muscle tension
- Having difficulty keeping worry levels under control
- Struggling with sleep
- Social anxiety disorder symptoms:
- Feeling very anxious at the thought of being around others
- Experiencing extreme self-consciousness and fear of humiliation
- Worrying about being judged
- Feeling anxious days or even weeks ahead of a social event
- Avoiding places where other people will be
- Struggling to make and keep friends
- Depression symptoms:
- Feeling persistently sad, anxious, or empty
- Experiencing hopelessness or pessimism
- Feeling irritable
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
- Losing interest in hobbies or activities
- Struggling with fatigue
- Moving and/or talking more slowly than usual
- Feeling restless
- Struggling with concentration, memory, and/or decision-making
- Experiencing unexplained changes in appetite or weight
- Having thoughts of death or suicide
It is important to note that not all teens who experience some of these symptoms have a mental illness. However, it is important to be aware of the warning signs so that you can get help for your teen if needed.
Sure, here is a rephrased version of “Managing Mental Illness in Teens”:
Supporting Teens with Mental Illness
One important step is to identify and address any stressors that may be contributing to the teen’s mental health problems. This may include things like getting enough sleep, eating regular meals, and establishing a daily routine.
Counseling is another important treatment option for teens with mental illness. A therapist can help teens to understand their mental health problems, develop coping skills, and manage their symptoms. Counseling can be done individually or in a group setting.
In some cases, medication may also be necessary. Psychiatric medications can help to reduce symptoms of mental illness and improve quality of life. SSRIs are a type of antidepressant that is commonly used to treat depression, anxiety, and social phobias. SSRIs are generally safe and effective, but they can cause side effects in some people.
It is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing mental illness in teens. The best treatment plan will vary depending on the individual teen’s needs and circumstances. It is important to work with a qualified mental health professional to develop a treatment plan that is right for your teen.
Here are some additional tips for managing mental illness in teens:
- Be supportive and understanding. Let your teen know that you are there for them and that you care about them.
- Encourage your teen to seek professional help. If you are concerned about your teen’s mental health, talk to their doctor or a mental health professional.
- Help your teen to develop healthy coping skills. Healthy coping skills can help teens to manage their stress and emotions in a healthy way. Examples of healthy coping skills include exercise, relaxation techniques, and spending time with loved ones.
- Celebrate your teen’s successes. It is important to recognize your teen’s accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. This can help to boost your teen’s self-esteem and motivation.
Remember, you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you and your teen manage mental illness.
In Homework in a Cafe we are ready to support you and your child to overcome any struggle you or your child might be facing! Contact us now.