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Teen Psychiatry: Addressing Teen Mental Health Issues

Written by Evolve's Behavioral Health Content Team​:

Alyson Orcena, LMFT, Melissa Vallas, MD, Shikha Verma, MD, Ellen Bloch, LCSW, Lianne Tendler, LMFT, Megan Johnston, LMFT

Meet The Team >

What Is Teen Psychiatry?

Teenage psychiatry refers specifically to the medical and therapeutic treatment of mental health conditions for teenagers. Most teen psychiatrists are actually child psychiatrists that specialize in working with teens because of their unique needs. This area of study focuses on dealing with unique teen-related issues like dating, fitting in, self-confidence, sex and sexuality, etc. It also helps provide insight to the ways that teens handle and work through mental health conditions.

Why Is Teen Psychiatry Important?

For young people, the earlier treatment for mental health conditions is started, the more effective it will usually be. Early treatment of teens can help prevent future issues that are lifelong or require excessive treatment and support as an adult. In addition to that, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world we live in and created a sense of uncertainty and teens are struggling to find comfort in anything. Now more than ever, the teen mental health crisis is at the forefront of many mental health conversations.

Teenage Mental Health Statistics

One in five teens has a mental health condition. That means that in a room of 100 kids, 20 will have some form of depression, anxiety, ADHD, or another mental health condition.

Other statistics that might surprise you:

  •         Suicide attempts are up by more than 50% among children and teens
  •         32.9% of teens age 12-17 suffer from some type of anxiety condition
  •         3 of 4 children and teens who have depression also have anxiety
  •         Children facing discrimination are 10% more likely to have mental health conditions

The statistics are shocking and the numbers are on the rise. Read on to learn more about symptoms, what to look for, and where to turn for help.

Symptoms of Teenage Mental Illness

There are several symptoms that come with teenage mental health issues. Teens, especially, often experience extreme mood swings and emotions in a way that many adults don’t. This is due largely to their hormone levels and brain development. The most common teenage mental illness symptoms are found below.  

Difficulty Sleeping

Teens who are depressed may be sleeping more often. Those who have anxiety may be having trouble sleeping. Mental health issues cause a lot of trouble with sleep, fatigue, and feeling rested, and can take their toll in several ways.

Extreme Mood Swings

As mentioned, teens are much more known for extreme mood swings than any age group suffering from mental health conditions. They may go from really happy to overwhelmingly sad in a matter of hours, or they may have bursts of anger that subside as quickly as they came. The extremes are what is important here.

Teen Self-Harm

Many teens don’t know how to process emotions and they feel everything so deeply that it’s hard to stay grounded. Several turn to self-harm as a way to cope with feelings of anxiety, depression, self-loathing, etc. Self-injury rates are higher among this age group than any other.

Teen Substance Abuse

Again, teens often don’t know how to handle emotions or deal with the stresses of life. This can cause them to look for better ways to get relief, such as indulging in substance abuse. The use of alcohol or drugs can mask feelings and cover up mental health symptoms that could otherwise be diagnosed and treated properly.

Teen Eating Disorders

Teens are also highly susceptible to eating disorders and various behavioral addictions. Especially with social media on the rise, there’s an expectation of this unattainable ideal and it causes thousands of teens to struggle with disordered eating. They can also be a symptom of anxiety, ADHD, depression, and other conditions.

Causes of Teen Mental Health Disorders

Teens and Social Media

Today, this is an issue more than ever. As the rise of social media and Internet addiction also come to light, we see more teens struggling with mental health disorders because of social media use. They may also have existing conditions that are exacerbated by exposure to social media, allowing bullies and other negative things to affect them more easily.

Academic Pressure

Teens are also under an immense amount of pressure academically. This can lead to several types of mental health conditions. Teenage anxiety is most common related to academic concerns, but some people also have issues with ADHD and learning conditions that can make existing mental health issues that much more challenging.

Biological Factors

Parents and genetics can also impact whether teens develop mental health conditions. If parents or other family members have mental health issues, the potential for them increases significantly.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What Treatment Options are Available for Teens With Mental Health Issues?

Talk therapy, medication, and a variety of behavioral therapy approaches can be used to address any mental disorder in teens. Depending on the specific circumstances and the condition in question, the treatment options may vary. There are also programs like CBT and dialectical behavior therapy for teens.  

How Can Parents and Caregivers Support Adolescents’ Mental Well-Being?

Parents and caregivers can check in on teens and make sure they are doing okay. They can also attend family programs. For those wondering what is a family therapy program, this is an opportunity for the entire family to support the teen in their condition and work together to figure out how to navigate the waters.

What Causes Mental Health Issues in Teens?

Several issues can lead to mental health concerns in teens. Teenage psychiatry professionals cite academic pressure, parental pressure, environmental factors, genetics, and more. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy can help teens get to the root cause and start to find relief. 

How Important is Early Intervention in Treating Mental Health Issues?

Early intervention is a must for mental health treatment. The less exposure someone has to a mental illness, the more likely they will be able to overcome it. Conditions that go untreated lead to a lifetime of problems for people who don’t get the early intervention they deserve.

How Can You Address Mental Health Issues in Teens?

If you think that your teen is struggling, talk to them. Ask them how they’re feeling, what doesn’t feel right, and whether they might want to see someone who can help them. Then, you can reach out to the specialists at Evolve Treatment, who specialize in teenage psychiatry and mental health treatment. And if you think that you can’t talk to your teen, or they don’t feel comfortable talking to you, we can step in right away. Call us now to learn more. 

Our Behavioral Health Content Team

We are an expert team of behavioral health professionals who are united in our commitment to adolescent recovery and well-being.

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