Teen Mental Health
Most teenagers will very successfully navigate the adolescent years. For some however, the journey may not be quite so smooth. Below is list of mental health challenges that can be quite common in the teenage (and adult) years. If you recognise yourself in any of these please talk to someone as soon as possible.
These pages are a good place to start to seek information about who you can talk to ‘in crisis’ or ‘useful websites.
I have already spoken a little bit about anxiety in the ‘Teen Brain’ section. Extreme anxiety is when you feel some or all these symptoms all the time:
- Feeling fearful, nervous and/or panicky
- Feeling out of control or overwhelmed
- Not feeling hungry or able to sleep
- Feeling agitated, snappy or grumpy
- Feeling faint or hot
- Headaches, stomach cramps, vomiting or diarrhoea
- Increased heart and breathing rate
If you feel you might be anxious most or all the time, please talk to someone. For support information see the ‘in crisis’ or ‘useful websites’ page.
Depression is when you experience low or sad feelings for long periods of time. Signs of depression are:
- Feeling worse in the mornings, unmotivated and you struggle to get out of bed or leave the house
- Loss of appetite or binge/comfort eating influencing changes in weight loss or gain
- Feelings of being worthless, useless, waste of space and a burden to others
- No longer enjoying things or withdrawing from all friendships/family members
- Feeling tired a lot of the time but struggling to sleep or waking early and lying awake thinking negative/unhelpful thoughts
- Poor concentration and forgetfulness
- Thinking that the world would be a better a place without you, what it would be like to die and how you would suicide
If you feel you might be depressed please talk to someone. For support information see the ‘in crisis’ or ‘useful websites’ page.
This is when someone purposely takes their own life maybe as a result of a perceived impossible, or embarrassing situation, or having unbearable/overwhelming thoughts or feelings. Others may have experienced a traumatic situation or have complex mental health challenges. If you feel that you want to die, or have thoughts about ending your life, it is important to talk to someone as soon as possible. If you are in crisis and can’t keep yourself safe go to A & E immediately or call 999 for an ambulance. For further support information see the ‘In Crisis’ or ‘useful websites’ page.
Self-harm is the deliberate act of hurting or injuring yourself. Teenagers I have worked with report to having self-harmed for several reasons:
- As a coping mechanism to survive a traumatic situation, bullying, low self-esteem
- To regain a sense of control over something in their life
- To feel something different to an overwhelming emotion or just to feel something
- To release overwhelming emotions such as anger, shame, hopelessness, guilt
Self-harm is often a coping mechanism and is not something to be ashamed or embarrassed about. It is important to seek help by talking to someone. For support information see the ‘in crisis’ or ‘useful websites’ page.
Disorderly eating is a form of self-harm. Conditions such as anorexia, binge eating disorder and bulimia require specialist treatment and ongoing support. Often disorderly eating can impact the entire family and can lead to lifelong health issues if not treated. They may start from a place of thinking that you are overweight but can also be triggered to exercise control over yourself when all around you feels chaotic. Please seek help if you think you may have an eating disorder. For support information see the ‘in crisis’ or ‘useful websites’ page.
Research is showing that if you start drinking, smoking or taking drugs heavily below the age of 15 you are 4 times more likely to become addicted than if you waited until the age of 21. I talk about the levels of dopamine in teenagers on the ‘Teen Hormones’ page. By continuing to access a thrill-seeking activity, or in this case a chemical fix, you feed directly into the behavioural and chemical cycle of craving. You drink to feel happy, to forget your troubles or in response to peer pressure, the body recognises the reward and seeks more of it. The more you drink the more you set up your body to be dependent on the chemical fix – the habit has been established and is then hard to break. If you are drinking, taking drugs and/or smoking it’s important to seek help if it’s getting out of control. If you feel you might have a substance misuse problem, please talk to someone. For support information see the ‘in crisis’ or ‘useful websites’ page.
(Source Young Minds www.youngminds.org.uk)