A new film and studies from around the world highlight the need to open up about youth health mental. A teen’s poor mental health can impact all areas of their life.
Fortunately, for most youth, mental health distress is episodic rather than permanent and many do very well with treatment and support from their families and communities.
Stress is a normal part of life, but it can cause health problems if it’s not managed well. Young adults need to learn how to manage stress so it doesn’t affect their mental health.
A certain amount of stress is good for us because it gives us the energy to meet challenges. It also releases a hormone that helps regulate blood pressure and keeps the immune system working well. But if we experience too much stress for long periods, it can lead to anxiety or depression. And if we have experienced a very traumatic event, it can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
To help reduce the impact of stress, we should try to stay active and get enough sleep. We should also eat a healthy diet and avoid unhealthy habits like smoking, excess caffeine or alcohol. We can also get support from family and friends. And if the stress is caused by a mental health condition, it’s important to be diagnosed and treated.
Depression is a common mental illness that can cause young people to withdraw from friends and activities they usually enjoy. It can also lead to substance use and self-harm, both of which are serious issues for teen health.
If you think your teen may be depressed, trust your instincts. Talk therapy can help, but you may need to work with a specialist. A therapist can teach your teen how to recognize the early signs of depression, and may recommend keeping a mood diary or examining family relationships that might contribute to their condition.
Occasionally, medication is needed to treat depression in teens. It is important that your teen take their medicine exactly as prescribed. Some medications can affect the hypothalamic pituitary-gonadal axis, leading to anovulatory cycles and other menstrual problems, including galactorrhea. Your therapist will carefully weigh the risks and benefits of these drugs with your teen. Interpersonal therapy helps your teen learn healthier relationship skills and explore major life changes that can add to the symptoms of depression.
Anxiety is a natural feeling that warns us of potential danger or change. It is a normal response to stressors such as moving, starting a new job or taking a test. But when it becomes persistent and highpitched, it interferes with daily functioning.
A person may suffer from anxiety due to childhood adversity, trauma or negative life events like loss of a parent or serious illness in family members. Some people have a genetic predisposition to develop anxiety disorders. Medications, including serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may also help treat severe anxiety.
The best treatment for anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches children and teens how to change negative, anxious thoughts and behaviors. Support groups can be helpful, too. The earlier you seek treatment, the better. Talk to a trusted adult and avoid self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, which can make things worse. Get plenty of exercise, good sleep and a balanced diet. Social connections can reduce anxiety and depression, so make sure to spend time with friends.
Having healthy relationships with peers and family is essential to a teen’s mental health. However, sometimes those relationships are toxic.
A teen who has a toxic relationship may experience doubts and dips in confidence, which can affect their mental health. It’s important that they learn to recognize those toxic relationships and leave them.
In addition, a teen should be familiar with the various emergency numbers and how to contact them. It’s also a good idea for them to save the numbers on their phones so they can get immediate help in a crisis.
Pediatricians are uniquely positioned to build protective relationships with their patients, including encouraging them to seek mental health care. They can also promote mental health in adolescence by establishing routine well-child visits and reducing the stigma of seeking mental health treatment. They can also support families by providing resources on the best ways to talk to teens about mental illness and making sure adolescent youth have access to behavioral and emotional health services.