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Teen Talk - Teens and Mental Disorders

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Posted at 8:06 AM, May 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-11 04:12:21-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - This week's "Teen Talk" is focused on advice for parents about dealing with mental disorders.

WTXL contributor and family therapist Jane Marks:

For the month of May I think it’s important to bring attention to the most common mental health disorders that crop up in adolescence. First it’s important to know that the statistics are staggering. One in five young people suffer from mental illness. The life of a teen is like a roller coaster anyway so having a mental health disorder can impact the life of an individual for years.

ADHD and depression are the most common mental issues among teens. These are the two that are most likely to be diagnosed. Other common mental health disorders are anxiety, eating disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders, autism spectrum, personality and behavioral disorders and addiction disorders. Let’s be more specific.

1. ADHD, is the most common diagnosed mental disorder. Within the juvenile correction system there are reports that as many as 50% of youngsters in that setting have a partial diagnosis of ADHD. The most common among childhood and teen disturbances is believed to affect 6.8% of children between the ages of 3 and 17. It can cause impaired functioning in multiple settings. If untreated this disorder can have long term adverse effects into adulthood.

2. Depression often expresses itself through symptoms of sleep disruption, fatigue, agitation, significant mood swings, compromised concentration and lack of drive or motivation. Other indicators for depression in teens include the refusal to go to school, pretending to be sick, clinging to parents, worry that the parent may die, trouble at school, grouchiness.

3. Adolescents with anxiety disorder typically experience intense fear, worry or uneasiness that can last for long periods of time and significantly impact their lives.

4. Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health disorder that can cause extreme shifts in mood, energy and the ability to function. Bipolar is most likely to be diagnosed in late adolescence or early adulthood.

5. Borderline Personality Disorder is a serious mental illness characterized by pervasive instability of moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image and behavior. Borderline Personality Disorder is much more difficult to diagnose because you see so many of the same symptoms in other conditions.

6. Eating disorders have characteristics of disturbance of weight and feeding behavior. Behavioral disorders are persistent disturbances and expected behaviors. One of the biggest is addiction disorder is craving which can apply to craving which can apply to smoking, eating issues, obsessive/compulsive and related disorders.

7. Autism Spectrum disorders or Pervasive Developmental Disorders cause severe pervasive impairment in thinking, feeling and language and the ability to relate to others.

8. Substance Abuse or Craving Disorders are more likely to emerge during adolescence. Typically half of all substance abuse and mental health disorders can be identified by the age of fourteen. The number climbs as teens age.

Remember genetics and family situations have a role in adolescent mental health. Males tend to have behavioral and autistic spectrum disorders as well as ADHD. Females are more prone to depression and eating disorders. Teens who are raised in families of abuse and sexual abuse tend to also have mental health issues. With emotional ups and downs being very normal with adolescents, sometimes it’s very difficult to diagnose.

The bottom line for parents is this; it is important for you as well as your teens to take great care of your mental health. It is equally as important as your physical health. Remember, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment is very important and resources are available in every community. Again, these are part of the tools we need for raising healthy teens.