ACCORDING TO THE WHO, APPROXIMATELY 20% OF CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS SUFFER FROM SOME MENTAL DISORDERS.
Adolescence is a period of intense activity and transformation in the mental life of the individual, which, in itself, leads to various manifestations of behavior that can be interpreted by laypeople as illness.
During puberty, generally, the initial phase of changes in physical appearance is contrary to ideal aesthetic models. This dystonia between desire and reality can trigger serious difficulties of adaptation, low self-esteem, and lack of personal acceptance, resulting in depressive, anorexic, obsessive-compulsive, among other mental disorders.
According to WHO, approximately 20% of children and adolescents suffer from some mental disorders, with suicide being the second leading cause of death between 15 and 29 years. Other manifestations inherent to adolescence are antisocial behaviors, delinquency, and drug use that may be associated with the manifestations of aggression and behavioral disorder in childhood.
It should be noted that many of the so-called normal manifestations of adolescence can be confused with mental illness. Therefore, we need attention and knowledge about what we call “normal adolescence,” which is the stage of life in which the individual finds himself separated from his parents. This creates a sense of curiosity and euphoria, but it also generates feelings of fear and inadequacy.
There are many possibilities for mental disorders at this stage of life, but all situations should be very well evaluated before a diagnosis is made, especially in adolescence. In addition to the personal difficulties of adolescents and their intensely physical and mental modification, which in itself may already generate behaviors and feelings of inadequacy, their attitudes may still reflect familiar problems. Therefore, without proper evaluation of the adolescent is at least reckless to characterize him as having a specific mental illness.
Among the most common mental disorders seen in adolescence are three major diagnostic groups: emotional disorders (anxiety disorder, phobias, depression), disruptive behavior disorder (conduct disorder, hyperactivity, oppositional defiant disorder), global developmental disorder (delayed speech, delayed reading, mental retardation, autistic disorders).
Discover some of the most common Mental disorders in adolescents
1. Mood Disorders
It is the group that includes the depressive illnesses, somehow common in adolescence, accompanied by the most diverse manifestations. They may present depressed mood (sadness) or irritability, loss of interest or pleasure in their activities, loss or gain of weight, insomnia or excessive sleep, and abuse of psychoactive substances. Treatment of these disorders involves the use of drugs (antidepressants) associated with psychotherapy.
2. Eating Disorders
Bulimia (bouts of compulsive “eating” often followed by vomiting) and Anorexia (severe decrease in food intake) are included here. The person demonstrates a “fear” of getting fat, taking exaggerated or unnecessary steps to lose weight, keeping weight well below expectations for it. The treatment of these disorders involves a multidisciplinary team (psychiatrist, nutritionist, etc), antidepressant drugs, and psychotherapy, necessitating in some cases of interventions in the family.
3. Psychoactive Substance Use Disorders
Drug use, as it is known, is a type of mental disorder or behavioral change widely seen in adolescence. Drug dependence is manifested by the use of the substance associated with the intense need to have the drug, lack of pleasure in activities without the drug, and the incessant search for the drug, often engaging in illegal situations or at risk to achieve the same ( theft and trafficking). The treatment involves psychotherapy, family education, and some drugs, sometimes requiring hospitalization.
4. Disorders of Conduct
They are characterized by repetitive behaviors of contrariness to social norms and standards, aggressive and challenging behavior. It constitutes serious attitudes, being more than adolescent rebellion and normal children’s antics. These people engage in situations of illegality and violations of the rights of others. They appear the robberies, destruction of others’ patrimony, fights, cruelty, and intense disobedience like some of the manifestations.
The treatment basically involves psychotherapy, and some drugs may be used to control the impulsivity of these patients. They are difficult to manage disorders, and often require family and social interventions.
5. Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders range from separation anxiety and school phobia, conditions that occur almost exclusively in childhood, to obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic syndrome, and phobias.
People who live with a very intense degree of anxiety can get to have real losses in their lives. In addition to causing significant physical and psychological distress, the consequences of anxious symptoms are often demoralizing and disabling in more than one sphere, such as social, occupational, school, and family. Symptoms may begin in both childhood and adolescence, and may be either primary, secondary, or occur in comorbidity with other psychiatric symptoms. The treatment basically involves psychotherapy, and some drugs may be used as coadjutants.
6. Psychotic Disorders
At this stage of life, many psychotic disorders, for example, schizophrenia, begin their manifestations. These disorders are serious, often require hospitalization, and are characterized by behaviors and thoughts that are much distorted in the face of reality. The treatment is based on drug treatment with the use of antipsychotics and supportive psychotherapy. They are mostly chronificant disorders, especially if not treated.
7. Suicide in Adolescence
This is one of the most serious mental disorders. Many teenage disorders may manifest as suicidal behavior. Attempts or threats of suicide may appear. Some behaviors of exposure and risk (driving at high speed or intoxication, involvement in fights or at-risk activities, among others) can also be signs of suicidal behavior in adolescence, even without explicitly expressing this intention. The adolescent’s impulsive behavior carries a greater risk of suicide attempts even in the absence of depressive symptoms or clear suicidal ideation, which makes adolescents much more vulnerable to this type of behavior.
In general, adolescence makes it difficult to diagnose mental disorders, either by the occurrence of atypical symptoms of the emotional disorders in this phase of life or by the misunderstandings of these symptoms with the exuberant and typical emotional manner of this age.
People with mental disorders often feel isolated and left out because others find them difficult to deal with or to be with. Being complete without support in the family environment, they can seek the support of a group of equals, that can be constituted of young problematic or frankly delinquent, which aggravates the initial situation and can lead to suicide, since they present feelings of guilt by his simple existence – as, for example, feel as if they were a “burden to their parents, to other people.” How does your child feel and how do you feel about your child?