Teenage Mental Health
May 22, 2024

5 Teenage Mental Health Struggles Parents Should Know

Being a teenager is an exciting time! It's a period of incredible growth, self-discovery, and exploration. But it can also be challenging, filled with emotional ups and downs. As a parent, it’s natural to wonder if these mood swings are “normal” teenage behavior or something more. 

Understanding these struggles is key to supporting your teen's well-being. It can be as simple as offering a shoulder to lean on or as complex as seeking teen mental health treatment when things get more challenging.  

This blog explores 5 teen mental health issues that your child may face and aims to equip you as parents to recognize the signs and open a conversation.

Teenage Mental Health

1. Emotional Rollercoaster

Emotional disorders are common in teens. Anxiety disorders, with symptoms like panic or worry, are most prevalent and affect older teens more. Supportive environments and healthy habits like sleep and exercise are critical. 

Stress from school, friends, or social media can make things worse. Some teens face even more significant challenges due to tough situations at home or discrimination. Teen anxiety and depression can make it hard to go to school, do schoolwork, or socialize. They can also lead to isolation and loneliness, and depression can lead to suicide.

2. Suicide and Self-Harm

Tragically, suicide is the leading cause of death for older teenagers (15-19 years old) in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More teens die by suicide than from car accidents or other injuries.

The reasons behind a teen's suicide attempt are rarely simple. It's often a combination of factors that create a web of despair. Experiencing physical, emotional, or sexual abuse can leave lasting scars and increase the risk of suicide. Feeling isolated and hopeless, with no one to turn to for help, can be a significant risk factor.

Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter — these can all be a double-edged sword when it comes to suicide prevention. On the positive side, it can connect teens with support groups and resources. However, it can also expose them to harmful content or create unrealistic expectations, potentially increasing feelings of isolation and inadequacy.

3. Behavioral disorders

Behavior problems are more common in younger teens. Younger teens might struggle with focusing or acting impulsively, signs that could indicate attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Another issue is conduct disorder, which involves destructive or challenging behavior. These struggles can affect a teen's schoolwork and, in some cases, may even lead to serious criminal behavior. Getting help early if you see these signs is crucial.

4. Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions that can have a devastating impact on a teen's physical and emotional well-being. Teens and young adults are more likely to develop eating disorders, often due to pressures about body image and social media influence.

These unhealthy eating habits, like severe weight loss due to eating very little (anorexia nervosa) or repeated cycles of overeating and then purging (bulimia nervosa), can be dangerous, sometimes even leading to suicide or death from health problems.  Early intervention and professional help are crucial for recovery.

5. Mental Health Factors

Many factors affect teenage mental health. The more challenges a teen faces, the greater the impact. Stressors can include tough times at home or school, pressure to fit in, and figuring out who they are. Social media and gender norms can make it seem like their reality isn't good enough.

Some teens face even greater risks due to their situation. These risks include teens in difficult settings, those with chronic illnesses or disabilities, pregnant or married teens, orphans, and teens from discriminated groups. Home life quality and relationships with friends also matter. Violence, harsh parenting, and poverty are known risks.

Early Intervention and Care

While navigating the 5 mental health struggles teens face can be complex, focusing on non-medication treatments and respecting their choices is important when possible. Remember, you're not alone in this journey through the "Teen Talk" rollercoaster!

The most important step is talking openly and honestly. Let your kids know you're there to listen without judgment, and create a safe space to share their feelings. With open communication and early intervention, you can support your teen's mental well-being and help them navigate the exciting yet challenging journey of adolescence.