Mental illness is a topic that often creates confusion, in that it is steeped in misconceptions. People who are unfamiliar with these illnesses often have a narrow view of what they are, who gets them, and how it affects them. The fact is that mental illnesses are a complex group of mental health disorders or conditions. Because of this stigma, many don’t believe that teens can suffer from mental illnesses, when in fact knowing the signs of mental illness in teens could help save a life.
A person who is affected by mental illness suffers from changes in how they think, their behavior, and their overall mood. The term “mental illness” is a type of umbrella that covers a number of disorders, some common and others less so. When dealing with a teen who has a mental illness, parents will need to educate themselves to fully understand and provide the necessary treatment.
Signs of Mental Illness in Teens
Teens who suffer from mental illness often show signs that parents and professionals should be aware of. These signs of mental illness in teens vary and can be emotional or, in some instances, physical. When a person exhibits these signs, it is not a confirmation that they have a mental illness but that further investigation is necessary. Some of the more physical symptoms may include headaches, stomach aches, or other unexplainable aches and pains. More common symptoms include teens having difficulty maintaining grades, paying attention, concentrating, or remembering in general.
The teen may display a dramatic shift in behavior and feelings. There may be a loss of interest in favored activities and extreme feelings of sadness, fear, hopelessness, guilt, anxiety, and anger. They may stop caring about personal hygiene or their appearance. Suspicion of others may increase, and the teen may begin to withdraw from friends and family. A heightened sensitivity to sounds and sights, changes in sleeping and eating habits, as well as self-medicating are also warning signs that a teen may be suffering from mental illness. Lastly, one of the most important signs to look out for are words or behaviors that indicate suicidal thoughts.
Types of Mental Illnesses
The signs of mental illness in teens can indicate more than one type of illness. Key signs of mental illness in teens may reflect illnesses including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, and eating disorders. Drug abuse may also be considered a type of mental illness. These illnesses are quite different. Depression, which is a mood disorder, is a common mental illness that many people don’t understand. People often confuse depression with feelings of sadness or being “blue.” Depression involves intense feelings of sadness that overshadow one’s life, causing problems with sleep, eating, studying, and more.
Bipolar disorder is another mood disorder. Bipolar disorder is characterized by severe mood swings. The frequency of episodes vary from daily to several times annually. People who suffer from this condition swing from severe lows of depression to the highs of mania. The degree of depression and the degree of mania that a person experiences often varies and depends on the person and type of bipolar disease that they have.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder in which the affected teen is unable to recognize reality or has a false interpretation of it. People with this condition may have hallucinations and confusion. Anxiety by itself isn’t a cause for concern: Everyone at some point experiences it during times of heightened concern or worry, like when taking a major test. But when anxiety fails to resolve and attacks occur throughout one’s day, this is an anxiety disorder.
Mental disorders that involve abnormal and unhealthy eating behavior such as binging on and purging food or obsessive calorie-counting are called eating disorders. This type of disorder is based on one’s distorted feelings toward one’s body image and negative thoughts about food. It is also, for some, a way of coping with emotional issues.
Borderline personality disorder or BPD, is another mental disorder that involves a distorted self-image. In some with borderline personality disorder, there may be feelings of worthlessness, mood swings, and impulsive and/or risky behavior. Drug abuse often co-occurs with mental illness. It can be a form of self-medication for some people who do not receive treatment for their illness. It can actually worsen one’s mental illness or bring out the first symptoms of mental illness.
Finding Help for Teens with Mental Illnesses
Discovering and understanding mental illness in teens is important for successful treatment. Many people do not understand mental illnesses, however, and can be they frightening for parents of teens who have them. There are many different disorders that professionals consider to be types of mental illness. For this reason, parents will not only need to know what to look for, but they will also need a qualified medical professional to get teens the help that they need.
If you are noticing the signs of mental illness in your teen, then it’s time to find them help with Morningside Recovery. Our professional facility offers comprehensive dual diagnosis, mental health rehab, and addiction therapy services to help teens from all backgrounds. Don’t hesitate and call us today at 855-631-2135 so we can get your child’s life back on track.