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Teen & Adolescent Mental Health

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Mental Health & Teens

Mental health struggles impact teens as well as adults. However, when teens experience anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other mental health condition, the symptoms look different. The difference in presentation often leads to delayed diagnosis or even misdiagnosis for teens and their families struggling to understand what their symptoms mean.

Statistics indicate mental health issues and mental health diagnoses are becoming increasingly common among adolescents and teens. Recent studies show that approximately 20% of young people between ages twelve and eighteen meet the diagnostic criteria for at least one mental health condition. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology suggests that the rate at which youth struggle with mental health symptoms and mental health disorders is continuing to rise. The same study provided data on the declining nature of teen mental health between 2009 and 2017. Based on reported data, major depression diagnoses in sixteen and seventeen-year-olds increased by almost 70%.
Additionally, symptoms related to depression and anxiety rose by more than 70%, and one in five teen girls experienced major depression during the last year. Perhaps most disheartening are the statistics surrounding teen self-harm and suicide-related mental health struggles over the last decade. Between 2008 and 2017, the rate of suicide increased by 56% in teens ages eighteen to nineteen.

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Common Teen Mental Health Conditions

Depression, anxiety, and eating disorders are the most common mental health struggles faced by teens today. In addition, teens often struggle with substance use disorders, frequently directly related to mental health symptoms and challenges.

Depression or major depressive disorder impacts everyone who struggles with symptoms in different ways. However, it is often characterized by overwhelming, intense, inescapable feelings of sadness for teens and adults. These feelings can impair your teen’s ability to concentrate or affectively participate in everyday activities, including school or extracurricular activities. Recent studies suggest that more than 11% of adolescents report experiencing one or more major depressive episodes within the last year. Additionally, since 2012, the rate of teens diagnosed with depression has increased year after year. According to data from The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA), more than 14% of teens have depression or bipolar disorders.

Anxiety and anxiety-related disorders are also common among adolescents and tees. As many as 35% or approximately one out of every three teens meet the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria for anxiety disorders. In many cases, these diagnostic criteria are present before the age of thirteen. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders lists several types of anxiety-related disorders, many of which are common among teens. Separation disorders and phobias are among the most frequently diagnosed. Similar to depression, anxiety-related diagnoses are more common among females than males in the same age group.

Disordered eating or “eating disorders” are also prevalent in adolescents and teens. Although teen girls are at a higher risk, teenage boys are diagnosed with and struggle with disordered eating. Binge-eating disorder, anorexia, and bulimia are among the most frequently diagnosed forms of disordered eating in teens ages thirteen to eighteen. If your teen is exhibiting symptoms of an eating disorder, it is vital to seek help immediately. When left untreated, disordered eating and its associated symptoms are dangerous and life-threatening.

What is Teen Mental Health Treatment?

If you are concerned that your teen is struggling with a mental health condition, seeking early, comprehensive help at a teen-focused treatment program is an essential step towards their recovery. If you are unsure where to start or whom to contact, you can begin by contacting their primary care provider. Their medical provider is familiar with their medical history and may have a clearer understanding of their symptoms and what they mean. Also, they can talk with you about how mental health symptoms develop and the impact they may have on your teen’s long-term psychological and physical health. Also, having their first conversation about mental health struggles be with someone they know and trust may be more effective than seeing immediate interaction with a mental health provider.

Their doctor will perform various exams and test to gain a better understanding of their condition. Depending on their symptoms, this process may involve lab work, physical exams, and mental health exams. The assessment process helps provide guidance around the source of their symptoms and whether their challenges are related to an underlying mental health problem that could worsen or cause their symptoms. In addition to a physical evaluation, their provider will conduct (or refer them to) a psychological evaluation. This process will help their provider ensure their emotional symptoms are not related to any underlying mental or physical health conditions.

Effective and successful teen mental health treatment focuses on creating individuated treatment plans that focus on the person’s unique symptoms and treatment needs. Mental health challenges look different for everyone, and the symptoms and challenges each person experiences as they learn to overcome their illness are equally as diverse. We ensure each person who chooses Relevance Recovery for their treatment needs receives the most comprehensive plan possible; it is essential to clearly understand all aspects of their current physical and emotional health. It is also vital to rule out or uncover any other physical or mental health condition that could hinder your teen’s successful recovery. Their appointment with a primary care provider or a specialist here at Relevance Recovery can help ensure the effective treatment planning process.

What to Expect from Inpatient Mental Health Treatment for Teens

Many mental health conditions that impact teens (and adults) are highly treatable with adequate and individualized treatment. If your teen is experiencing symptoms related to a mental health struggle, seeking help at the earliest warning signs of a problem increases their opportunity for successful recovery. Early, evidence-based treatment at a teen-focused treatment center can help prevent their symptoms from worsening and leading to worsening physical and psychological illness.

At an outpatient mental health treatment program for teens, a team of treatment professionals will work with your teen and family to develop a care plan that addresses their specific physical and emotional needs. The therapeutic portion of a program often utilizes a combination of talk therapy (psychotherapy) and medications. During a therapy session, your teen will talk with their therapist about their mental health and the impacts of their symptoms. Therapy sessions are often done one-on-one or with family members depending on the individual’s unique needs. Because everyone reacts to and responds to treatment differently, treatment models are often fluid and flexible to ensure the patient feels comfortable and supported throughout therapy.

After a stay at a teen-focused treatment program ends, your teen’s mental health team may also recommend ongoing therapy and lifestyle changes to help encourage lasting recovery and improve relapse prevention. It is vital to help your teen adhere to any ongoing treatment plan, including therapy, medications, and other support opportunities. Participating in continuous treatment will help your teen (and family) continue practicing and reinforcing vital relapse prevention skills to ensure they have the tools needed to manage triggers in a safe and healthy way.

Our Compassionate Team Can Help You and Your Teen Recover

If teen mental health struggles have affected your family and you are concerned about your teen, do not wait to seek help. Many mental health conditions can worsen without treatment, leading to worsening mental and physical health struggles that can last well into adulthood. At our mental health treatment facility in NJ, we will work with your family to help your teen get back on the road to health and lasting wellness. Contact our admissions team today if you would like to learn more about how we can help you and your teen recover.

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