Recently, more and more adolescents have been diagnosed with mental health disorders. A child's mental health is just as important as their physical health, and the two are deeply intertwined. As a parent, it's essential to be aware of your child's mental health and the potential for disorders that affect their behavior and well-being.
To maintain a healthy mind and body, we all need to meet certain needs. When these needs aren't satisfied, it can put us at risk of developing a mental health disorder. In addition, adolescents are rapidly growing and changing bodies, making them even more susceptible to the adverse effects of psychological distress.
The most common mental health disorders among adolescents in the United States are Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety, behavior problems, depression, and eating disorders. As a parent, you should be aware of these disorders and their symptoms to recognize them if they appear in your child.
It's also important to understand that many mental health problems have genetic components. So if someone in your family has a history of mental illness or substance abuse, it may be even more important for you to understand what signs to look for in your children.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or hyperkinetic disorder (HKD) in the UK, is a common condition that affects children and adolescents. It is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity).
Anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions that cause fear and worry, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and separation anxiety disorder. Children suffering from these disorders feel unusually apprehensive about everyday situations or specific events. They often expect the worst even when there is no reason to worry about something. Anxiety disorders cover many phobias, such as fear of animals or being in large open spaces.
Behavior problems can occur in children who have family circumstances that make them more likely to act out. For example, children exposed to violence or abuse may be more likely to exhibit behavior problems at school or at home than children who do not experience these circumstances.
Behavior problems are usually due to poor parenting skills or poor coping skills for the child. Treatment for these disorders involves teaching good parent/child interactions and healthy coping skills for the child to use in stressful situations.
Depression is a mood disorder that causes feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities one once enjoyed. It can manifest physically as symptoms like changes in eating habits or sleep patterns. In severe cases, depression can lead a person to feel suicidal. In addition to that, it can interfere with schoolwork, social interactions, and family relationships.
A preoccupation with food and body weight is a hallmark of eating disorders. The most common eating disorder in adolescents is anorexia nervosa, which involves the severe restriction of calories to starvation and self-starvation behaviors such as purging after eating specific foods. Eating disorders can lead to heart problems, decreased bone density, and even death due to malnutrition.