Teens may sometimes seem moody or emotional, but there’s a good reason for this. Their bodies and brains are still developing. During development, teens experience significant hormonal changes. In addition, life – from a teen perspective – is truly stressful. Teens face numerous challenges, such as competitiveness, cyberbullying, shaming, violence and other issues.
Sometimes the pressures of adolescence can become overwhelming. When this happens, stressed-out teens can suffer from one or more behavioral health conditions that can make life difficult if not downright debilitating.
Every year, nearly 160,000 youth are treated for self-inflicted injuries. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that suicide is the third top cause of death among youth and young adults between the ages of 10 and 24.
Helping Teens Handle Anxiety
According to the Children’s Mental Health Report published by the Child Mind Institute, 80-percent of youth with a treatable anxiety disorder fail to seek treatment. For most teens, anxiety is normal. Teens affected by an anxiety disorder, however, may exhibit symptoms of fear, nervousness, or shyness. They may also avoid socializing and other normal activities.
One in eight youths is affected by an anxiety disorder. Studies show that untreated anxiety disorders place teens at higher risk for poor academic performance, avoidance of normal social experiences and potential drug abuse.
If you suspect your child might struggle with anxiety, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Perhaps your child seems anxious, timid or worried compared to other teens. If you’re not sure if there’s a problem, seek advice from your child’s pediatrician or other health professional.
When Teens Have Problems Socializing
Social anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that involves an intense fear of being judged, criticized, or rejected by others in social situations. This disorder can make life feel unbearable for teens. For adolescents suffering with this condition, it is essential to get them the help they need. Recommended treatments for social anxiety are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medication or a combination of the two.
It’s important for teens with anxiety to build their confidence through normal life experiences. Parents must be careful not to shelter children who are coping with social anxiety.
These adolescents must learn to face the situations that cause their anxiety. They can do this by easing into social experiences that will slowly increase their ability to interact with others and bolster their confidence.
For instance, parents should give their teens with social anxiety the opportunity to speak for themselves when ordering food at restaurants. Caregivers should also praise or reward them for facing situations that normally make them feel anxious.
Parents can also help their teens overcome social anxiety by helping them to establish and pursue achievable, realistic goals. This might include joining a club or sports team or making friends with other adolescents. In addition, it’s important for teens who are coping with anxiety to make time for relaxation. Sometimes, a break from having to manage their anxiety is needed.
Clinical Depression Among Youth
With teens, it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between normal unhappiness and the signs of depression. Teens go through mood swings. Sometimes they’re just not happy. Add in all the things that today’s youth face and their mood swings can seem quite justified. However, studies show that 1 in 8 teens struggles with depression. In the United States, nearly 500,000 teens attempt suicide annually, and 10-percent of those attempts end in death.
Punishments and shaming are not helpful to teens who are coping with depression. Parents of anxious teens should avoid those tactics, and try to offer positive reinforcement instead, focusing on the things their children do right.
It is instinctive to want to help your children when they are struggling, but they also need room to breathe. Parents should not expect teens to abide by rules 100-percent of the time, especially those who live with depression.
Everyone’s situation is different. As a parent, you’ll have to figure out a balance between maintaining order and giving your child room to grow.
Helping Teens Who Are Coping With Substance Abuse
In the United States, more than 1,000 people die due to the consumption of over-the-counter medications every year. This doesn’t even begin to take into account the number of people who struggle with controlled substances.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) operates a 24-hour information service for families and individuals battling substance abuse. In the first three months of 2018, the SAMHSA hotline aided nearly 70,000 callers per month, slightly more than the previous year. When you call, SAMHSA representatives will refer you to local organizations and mail you free publications to help your teen and you.
Teens go through a lot. It’s hard to tell if they’re going through a phase or if they’re struggling with mental health issues. As a result, it’s vital for parents to know the signs of a behavioral health problem and what to do if their children are affected. Hopefully, your involvement will help your teen enjoy an improved quality of life and a future full of possibilities.
If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.
Author Bio: Shelly Williams is a researcher and mental health advocate based in Southern California. Outside of her work and studies, Shelly enjoys cooking, playing beach volleyball and watching a good romantic comedy.
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.
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