How Do You Help a Teenager with Mental Illness?

how to help a teen with mential illness

Parenting is a challenging job and parenting teens is quite tricky. Teenagers face many changes as they approach adulthood and the struggles that come with it. Peer pressure, bullying, body shaming, and negative self-perception all fall under the list of teen issues. As a parent, you want to ensure your teen is mentally, emotionally, and physically active.

A teen can develop similar mental health conditions as an adult, yet their symptoms may be different. Mental illness in adolescents can be difficult for parents to notice. Therefore, many teens who can benefit from teen mental health treatment often don’t receive the help they need.

What are the signs of mental illness in teens? What can parents do to help?   We’ll seek to answer these questions.

What is Mental Illness?

Mental health is defined as the overall mental wellness of a individual and how they think, regulate their feelings and behavior. Mental illness or a mental health condition can be defined as patterns or changes in thinking, feeling, or behaving that result in distress in a person’s ability to function.

In teens, mental health disorders are delays or disruptions in developing age-related thinking, behavior, social skills, or managing emotions. These issues are distressing to teens and can disturb their ability to function at school, home, or other social conditions.

Common Mental Health Disorders in Teens:

Mental health issues in teens or developmental disorders that mental health professionals address can include the following;

  • Anxiety issues

Anxiety disorder in a teen involves feelings of endless fears and worries that disturb their ability to participate in school activities. Parents will notice anxiety when they see social stress, generalized anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

  • Attention- deficit or hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

When comparing most teens of the same age, teens with ADHD have difficulty paying attention, impulsive behavior and hyperactivity.  They experience these issues at the same time in varying degrees.

  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

Autism spectrum disorder is a sensory condition that appears in early childhood, generally before age three. The severity of ASD’s situation can vary.  A child with this disorder has difficulty interacting and communicating with others.

  • Depression and other mood disorders

Depression is a continued feeling of sadness and loss of interest that upsets an adolescent’s ability to perform and interact with others. Bipolar disorder additionally brings about outrageous emotional episodes, as well as rapid mood swings that can range from from melancholy to overly enthusiastic. The latter might be risky or even dangerous.

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is extended emotional stress, nervousness, anxiety, upsetting memories, bad dreams, and problematic behaviors in response to traumatic events. These events may include past or present abuse, violence, and injury.

Read how art therapy has been helping kids transition from negative experiences to positive emotions related to various psychological, developmental and social issues.

Reason Teen Can Develop Mental Health Problems:

Though there can be various reasons and circumstances contributing to a teen’s mental health condition, some of the primary causes can be the following;

  • Hormones

Changes in hormones and brain development can put your teen at risk of mental health problems. Research has shown that when all the parts of the neural system don’t develop at the correct ratio, a teen may experience changes in thinking, mood, and behavior.

  • Environmental issues

Environmental issues can also be a factor that can contribute to a teen’s state of mental health. Any traumatic incidents like the history of any abuse can also increase a teen’s risk.

  • Stress

Stress can be a common factor in bringing on mental illness in teenagers. If your teen is being threatened at school or is a victim of cyberbullying or he or she is undergoing a lot of pressure, they may be more prone to mental health issues.

Warning Signs to Look for Teenage Mental Illness:

Mental illness symptoms can be different in teens, but some common warning signs include these behaviors;

  • Changes in sleeping habits

Your teenager may say they are having trouble sleeping, or they begin taking multiple or daily short naps at school. In the event that your child feels the need to remain in bed the entire day or wants to stay up throughout the night, this can be a warning sign of mental illness advancing in the teens life.

  • Lost interest in regular activities

In the event that your teens wants to withdraw from their favorite activity or indicates they no longer want to hang out with family or friends, then they might be going through a mental issue.

  • A changes in school performance

Mental health conditions frequently lead to dramatic changes in motivation to start or finish school work.  A loss of interest in school overall or a sudden decrease in school grades could very well be an indication of mental issues.

  • Changes in appetite or weight

Skipping out on meals, hoarding food, and quick weight changes could be a sign of an eating disorder.

  • Extreme agitation

Unusual resentment, unexpected emotional responses such as crying, and high degrees of irritability can be a sign of mental illness.

  • Increased isolation

A strong desire to stay distant from others or being very secretive might be an indication of a problem.

How to Help Teen to Deal with Mental Illness?

 Parents can play a crucial part in supporting their teen’s mental treatment. Here are few vital points that can help a parent to support their teen’s mental health treatment;

  • Take time to research and learn about your teen’s mental illness.
  • Seek family counseling that includes all individuals as partners in the treatment plan.
  • If you do not have a family pet, consider the benefits of animal therapy and which pet may be the most beneficial.
  • Ask your teenager’s mental health professional for counsel on responding to your teen and dealing with their conduct.
  • Take part in parent training programs, particularly those created for parents of teenagers with mental issues.
  • Engage in activities to unwind and have fun with your teen.
  • Study stress management techniques to assist you in responding to situations calmly.
  • Express appreciation for your teens strengths and abilities.

Mental illness is like any other illness.  It takes professional attention to help the person who is mentally ill to improve and manage their health moving forward. Beware of the signs and be ready to learn and provide appropriate solutions.  Get to know your kids and learn how to make them mentally strong for the challenges they will face as they grow.

Got the Winter Blues? Maybe It’s SAD

Have you been feeling down lately? Moody? You can’t seem to concentrate? Want to lay around all the time? You could be SAD. We’re not talking about having the blues; SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder.  And it’s ok.  You are not abnormal and you are certainly not alone.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a medically-recognized condition.  The symptoms are similar to being depressed. People with SAD can’t concentrate, have less energy, are moody and can have problems sleeping.

Researchers think that SAD is caused by three main factors:

  • Biological clocks. Your body is used to seeing the sun for a certain time and being in the dark for a certain time. Winter means shorter day, which confuses your internal clock.
  • Serotonin levels. Serotonin is a mood booster that your body makes naturally. Sunlight helps your body make serotonin, so when cold weather keeps you inside and out of the sun, you could have very low serotonin levels. This could make you feel sad or tired and even more hungry.
  • Melatonin levels. Your body makes melatonin naturally, but when days get short, your body makes less. This makes it harder to sleep.

SAD is also believed to effect younger people more than older people. That’s why you need to be aware of SAD. When you see a friend is posting dark or depressing messages, maybe he or she is suffering from SAD.

If you are feeling low and find that your mood is effecting your schoolwork or relationships, you should mention this to your parents. You could be suffering from SAD and need to see a medical doctor for help.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Most of the time, SAD is just a natural response to a long stretch of cold and dark days. If it’s an issue with mental illness, seek out resources and help from a professional about your specific issues.  In either case, there are steps you can take to help relieve symptoms.

The first and easiest thing you can do is get more sunlight. Bundle up and walk to school if you can. Or grab some friends for an outdoor game.

Being active is another way to treat SAD. Exercise increases serotonin levels, helping make up for the serotonin you lose during winter. This could be playing basketball in school or following an exercise video online. By getting your exercise outside when the sun is shining, you get twice the benefit.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “Talk is cheap”.  But in the case of the winter blues, talk is with more than gold!  The phrase “talk is cheap” is about when people talk about doing something good, but never do it.  What they say doesn’t have real value because it produces no action.  But when you’re feel down, it’s so important to express your feelings.  Talk to your friends and family about it.  Just the act of talking will most certainly make you feel a bit better.  And talking can also bring solutions of fun things to do to help you snap out of the doldrums.

Think about SAD when you check your social media. When you see a friend making posts that sound depressed or moody, pick up your phone and invite him or her out to do something fun.

You aren’t a doctor, but you can still help fight Seasonal Affective Disorder.

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