Being a teenager isn’t easy. It’s a period in life that is full of major transitions, both physically and emotionally, so life can get a little overwhelming. All these hormonal changes mean it’s not unusual for teenagers to be moody from time to time, but how are parents supposed to know when this “moodiness” is the result of something more — like mental illness? Unfortunately, mental illness is not that uncommon in teenagers. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates about 1 in 5 children will have or already have a mental illness at some point in their lives. WebMD also adds that “about 20-percent of American children suffer from a diagnosable mental illness during a given year.”
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Thankfully, most mental illnesses are treatable. The tricky part is getting a diagnosis. Many children don’t receive the help they need because unlike a physical injury or illness, the signs and symptoms of a mental illness can be hard to identify. This is why it’s so important to get informed on all the warning signs.
Here’s a look at the most common illnesses found in teenagers and the signs and symptoms for each.
1. Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety is a common emotion. We’ve all experienced it before. However, for many people, anxiety is a constant struggle that interferes with daily activities. There are several different types of anxiety disorders, from generalized anxiety disorder to post-traumatic stress disorder, social phobia, or even obsessive-compulsive disorder. The Mayo Clinic explains that some level of worry in children and teenagers is normal. It’s to be expected. Parents should only become concerned when their child’s worry or stress makes it hard for them to function normally. It can affect their social life, academic life, and even impact whether or not they want to leave the house.
According to Addiction Center, one in eight children are affected by some kind of anxiety disorder, yet only 20-percent receive any treatment. One of the most common anxiety disorders in teens is generalized anxiety, says Penn Medicine. Generalized anxiety disorder will cause a person to excessively worry about everyday matters. WebMD also adds that they may exhibit physical signs, such as a rapid heartbeat or sweating. A teenager with generalized anxiety disorder will struggle to concentrate at school, be extremely irritable, experience muscle tension, and have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and as a result become easily fatigued throughout the day.
VeryWell Family says that talk therapy is often used to treat anxiety disorders. During this type of therapy, teenagers can learn important skills that will help them manage their symptoms and give them the courage to face their fears.