Guest Post: Mental Health and Adolescence

Today I’m pleased to bring you a guest post from‘s Tammy Mahan. Consider according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), “Mental health issues can also be of concern as someone with cerebral palsy grows older.  The rate of depression is three to four times higher in people with disabilities such as cerebral palsy.” The information below can hopefully help fight this trend.

Late childhood and early adolescence is when a number of problems with mental health occur. Studies have identified mental health problems, especially depression as the largest problem when it comes to diseases in young people. Those diagnosed with severe mental disorders during adolescence are labeled as unable to function in society. There are combinations of mental health disorders that make up perceptual, cognitive, effective and behavioral components.
Mental health disorders include:

  • Attention deficient disorder (ADD)/Attention deficient hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Panic disorders
  • Phobias
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Impulse control disorders
  • Oppositional defiant disorder

Symptoms and signs of mental illness will vary. The behaviors, thoughts, and emotions of an adolescent are affected. There are a number of physical symptoms including:

  • Back pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Digestive problems
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid weight loss or weight gain
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Abnormal behavior, emotions and thinking
Precursors to Self Injury

“Adolescents that may have had a past trauma perform self-harm.”

Adolescents may be sad, withdrawn or have mood swings that include out of control rage. The one suffering from mental illness may make self-depreciating statements, have distorted thoughts, or rebel. Adolescents that may have had a past trauma perform self-harm or can be hyperactive when a mental disorder is present.

Depression is serious illness involving more than being down for a couple of days. The feelings do not go away by themselves and can interfere with your day-to-day life.

Depression Symptoms:

  • Interest or pleasure is lost in activities that were previously enjoyed
  • Oversleeping or a difficulty getting to sleep
  • Loss of energy
  • Suicidal thoughts or thinking of death

Causes of Depression:

  • Biochemical factors
  • Psychological
  • Environmental
  • Genetic

It can be difficult to determine if an adolescent has a mental illness or not. There are behaviors that are considered normal in certain situations and cultures where they are not in other cultures.

Symptoms and signs may be indicators of mental illness when the ability to function from day to day is impaired and adolescents are miserable. Emotions such as anger or stress may be difficult for teenagers to cope with. They may have difficulty handling responsibilities of school or their own family.

It may be family members or friends that recognize the problem. Illnesses such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia can be present and the adolescent might not even realize he has a problem.

There are behavior patterns and neural pathways that are established during adolescence that last into adulthood. Symptoms of depression are present in one of every four adults that suffer from ADD/ADHD.

Diagnosis and treatment of ADHD can be difficult when conditions co-exist. Overlapping symptoms of other conditions can lead to inaccurate diagnosis or ineffective medication. The risk is increased when other conditions are present. The risks include:

  • Anti-social behaviors
  • Aggression
  • Conduct disorders
  • Development disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicide

A thorough psychological evaluation of those suffering from ADHD should be done to determine if there is a mental illness such as depression present.


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