The mental health of teenagers has been in decline for some time. It’s impossible to pinpoint a single cause for the sharp decrease, but many different environmental, genetic, and situational factors can affect mental health, but some are more common than others. Teens are under immense pressure to do well in school, get into a good college, make friends, fit in, and please their parents. This pressure can be overwhelming, and it can lead to a variety of mental health issues.

mental health

What’s causing this mental health crisis in teens?

Here are a few of the most frequent contributors to mental health difficulties in teenagers.

The pressure to succeed

Today’s teenagers experience high pressure to excel in academics and extracurricular activities, which can trigger a lot of psychological distress and lead to mental health issues.

Busy schedule

School, sports, clubs, and even an after-school job can fill a teen’s schedule. This can leave little time for relaxation and lead to burnout, anxiety, and depression.

Social media

There has been growing concern about the effects of social media on the mental health of teenagers and young adults. Social media platforms often put teens under pressure by constantly barraging them with unattainable body images, status symbols, and successes that few people can attain. There is also the issue of FOMO (fear of missing out), which can leave teens feeling anxious and left out. Cyberbullying is another big problem associated with social media. Teens who are bullied online are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

Unequipped to deal with stress

Most teenagers have yet to learn how to appropriately deal with events or circumstances that may trigger them emotionally. They may not know how to handle stressful situations effectively or know what to do when they become overwhelmed with life.

Relationship issues

The stress from teenagers’ relationships, whether friendships or romantic partnerships, can sometimes lead to mental health problems. Middle school and high school is often when friendship dynamics start to change and where a lot of bullying occurs. These can be tough transitions for any teen, leading to anxiety and depression.

Relationships with family members can also be a source of stress for teenagers. Conflict between teens and parents is a given in any family. Whether it be a struggle over growing independence or personality clashes as the teenager begins to establish their own identity and views of the world, the tension can be stressful on teens who are already dealing with a lot.

What are some common mental health disorders in teenagers?

Depression, anxiety, ADHD, and behavior issues are the most commonly diagnosed mental conditions in young people in the United States.

Anxiety and depression

Anxiety and depression affect an estimated 8 million teens in the United States. These two disorders often go hand-in-hand, and they can be debilitating. Anxiety is characterized by persistent and excessive worry or fear about everyday situations. This can lead to physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating, difficulty breathing, and nausea. Depression is more than just feeling down or sad. It’s a persistently low mood that can last for weeks or even months. Depression can make it hard to concentrate, eat, sleep, and function.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder that makes it difficult to focus, control impulsive behaviors, and sit still. It’s estimated that about 6 million American children and teens have ADHD.

Eating disorders

Eating disorders usually diagnosed in teenagers are Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge-eating disorders. Although eating disorders don’t discriminate by gender, age, race, or social status, it’s been found that adolescent girls are at a higher risk for developing one of these conditions. Teenagers can also experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Schizophrenia. The average age for a schizophrenia diagnosis falls between late teenage years to early 30s, but diagnosed cases before the age of 18 are classified as early-onset schizophrenia. Although extremely rare, children younger than 13 can develop childhood-onset schizophrenia as well.

What are the symptoms of mental health disorders in teenagers?

Teenagers are notoriously moody and tend to distance themselves from their parents. So, how can you tell if your teenager’s behavior is normal or if they are suffering from a mental health disorder? There are some common symptoms of mental health disorders in teenagers to look out for, including:

Changes in mood or behavior: If you notice your teenager is acting differently than usual, it could be a sign of a mental health disorder.

Withdrawing from friends and activities: If your teenager is withdrawing from their social circle or activities they used to enjoy, it could be a sign that something is wrong.

Poor school performance: A sudden decline in grades, lack of focus, or skipping school more often can signify that your teenager is struggling with a mental health disorder.

Increased irritability or anger: If your teenager seems more easily irritated or angry than usual, it could indicate a mental health issue.

Self-destructive behavior: Binge drinking, substance abuse, or self-harming behaviors such as cutting are all signs that your teenager is distressed and needs help.

A change in sleeping or eating patterns: Your teen may develop insomnia or spend a great deal of time sleeping.

Changes in eating habits: A noticeable loss or gain in weight in a short amount of time or loss of appetite.

A sense of hopelessness: If your teenager seems hopeless or helpless, it could signify depression. Expressing thoughts of suicide, self-harm, or a recent obsession with death are also red flags that should not be ignored.

It’s easy to think that the mental health symptoms that come from things like the ones mentioned above are just normal mood swings that happen during adolescence. This is why it’s crucial to start conversations about mental health as early as possible and make sure your kids know they can come to you with any problem, big or small.

If you’re worried that your teenager may be suffering from a mental health disorder, the best thing to do is talk to them about it. They may not be ready to open up at first, but let them know that you’re there for them and that they can come to you anytime. It’s also vital to talk to them about your concerns and seek professional help if necessary.

How can you help your teenager if they’re struggling with a mental health issue?

Knowing how to best support your teenager can be difficult as a parent. If you are concerned that your teenager may be struggling with a mental health issue, it is crucial to reach out for help. Remember, you are not alone in this.

If your teen is struggling, contact Serene Health. We have many mental health services and behavioral health services under one roof, including individual and family therapy. We also have appointments available on our Telehealth platform so that you can speak to a therapist online from the location of your choice. Teenagers are often willing to open up to people they don’t know that well as opposed to a trusted friend or family member. Our qualified therapists can provide your teenager with the help they need and deserve. Call us at 844-737-3638 or visit www.serenehealth.com to book an appointment.