Mental health concerns are on the rise for teens. With everything that they confront on a daily basis, it can be very difficult to deal with and often has an adverse effect on their mental health if they haven’t developed strong coping skills. Teens that are dealing with challenging personal circumstances are at high risk. It is important to educate yourself about the most common mental health concerns and what you should be doing.
Depression has become a serious concern for teenagers, especially in the wake of the pandemic. In fact, approximately 20% of teens will have some experience with depression before they reach their 20s. Teenagers that deal with poverty and other difficult circumstances have a higher risk of developing depression, especially if they also have relatives with mental health concerns. Some of the common ways that depression manifests in teenagers include sluggishness, declining lack of interest, withdrawal from others, problems in school, or sudden changes in physical condition, such as headaches, loss of appetite, or problems with sleeping. The most important thing you can do when you suspect a teenager is dealing with depression is to pay attention to their symptoms and to offer them support. Counseling, medication, and support from loved ones are all crucial to helping them successfully deal with these issues.
Often coupled with depression, anxiety has also been rising in teenagers. According to some reports, 1 in 3 teens will deal with an anxiety disorder at some point in their life. Chronic anxiety is often connected with other serious concerns, like substance abuse and suicide. There are quite a few different reasons that teenagers may develop anxiety. Some of the main reasons are high pressure to succeed, overwhelming circumstances outside of their control, threatening world events, and constant comparison on social media. Anxiety is best treated through therapy and medication, but you can also work with your teens to help them develop healthy self-esteem and to provide a secure environment for them. It can also be helpful to set limits on social media and set reasonable expectations with them, rather than for them.
Many teens who are dealing with difficult circumstances or with mental health concerns turn to substance abuse to self-medicate. They use it to temporarily escape what they are dealing with. This escape can quickly become an addiction that will continue to escalate over time. Teens may not even realize how it is affecting them until someone points it out, and they often will not be able to deal with their addiction on their own. This is something that requires treatment and professional help. In order to treat addiction, you also need to address the underlying circumstances that led to the behavior in the first place. It is important to have an open dialogue with your teen to help them get to the root of the issues, as well as get help for their addiction.
In order to help teenagers deal with their mental health concerns and all the other challenges that are thrown at them, it is important for them to learn healthy coping skills. These are often learned in therapy and with family and mentors who care about them. It is important to provide teens with strong examples that they can look up to and turn to for help.
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