Teenage Emotional Health

Mental health is incredibly important for a healthy teen. Although it can be difficult to differentiate from the natural stresses of growing up, understanding mental and emotional health can be the difference between surviving and thriving. Mental illness does not discriminate and can change over time. If your child is struggling with teenage emotional health in Coppell, Texas, call Dr. Moemeka at Mark9 Pediatrics for caring, respectful support for your teen and family.

Recognize the signs

Recognizing the signs of mental health issues and mental illness is the first step to helping your teen. Anyone who is intimately involved in your child’s life (parent, teacher, caretaker, friend, etc.) should be able to detect changes in your child’s behavior. So, if you notice any changes in your teen’s attitude or behavior, say something. Some signs you should watch out for are:

  • Stark and sudden mood changes
  • Changes in personality
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Disinterest in hobbies
  • Excessive sleepiness, fatigue, or insomnia
  • Sudden changes in weight or loss of appetite
  • Talk of self-harm, pointlessness, anxiety, or constant worry
  • Struggling in school or with friends
  • Suddenly taking unnecessary risks

These are not the only signs that you need to watch for, but noticing any changes in your teen’s behavior can help your teen get the help she needs to thrive.

Mental health screening

During your teen’s well exam, Dr. Moemeka will perform a mental health screening to make sure she is emotionally healthy. She will ask a number of questions about her social health and emotional health to screen for any signs of emotional distress or mental health problems.

Peer pressure

The pressure to fit in can severely impact a teenager’s emotional wellness. Between rapidly changing social circles and daily exposure to unattainable standards of beauty and happiness, your teen may find it hard to “fit in” and figure out who she is. Social pressure can be very heavy, especially in high school. Expectations to participate in after-school activities, get straight A’s, hold down a job, and maintain healthy relationships with friends and family can be overwhelming. It can be easy for a teen to lose herself among the pressure to meet societal standards.

If your child is struggling to keep up, she may develop coping mechanisms that include substance abuse, sex, and disinterest. Feelings of low self-worth and failure can take over her beliefs about herself. For this reason, encourage your teen to talk to Dr. Moemeka about how she is balancing all of these aspects of her life and to seek professional help if needed.

Bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia

Bipolar, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia should not be ignored. It is important to note that these conditions are mental illnesses that require professional medical treatment. They will not go away on their own, and they are much more serious than regular stress of exams or growing up. If your teen is expressing any symptoms of these disorders, seek professional help.

Bipolar

Sudden or drastic mood swings and energy levels that interrupt one’s daily life are key signs of Bipolar disorder. Experiencing ups and downs is a normal part of growing up and a normal part of the human experience. Conversely, bipolar disorder is incredibly intrusive and disruptive with the power to impact everyone involved.

Call Dr. Moemeka today at Mark9 Pediatrics if you think your child is struggling with bipolar disorder.

Depression

While many people will, at some point in their lives, have “the blues,” clinical depression is different and very serious. Depression doesn’t need a cause, and it doesn’t discriminate. Even if it seems like there is nothing to “be depressed about,” your teen can still be suffering from clinical depression. Without appropriate treatment, medication, and/or therapy, untreated depression can be a debilitating mental illness that hinders every aspect of your teen’s life.

If your child seems depressed, call your Coppell pediatrician today to get the support she needs.

Anxiety

Anxiety is a real problem among teens, and according to the National Institute of Health, 1 in 3 people between the ages of 13-18 suffer from anxiety disorder. Chronic anxiety is troubling on its surface, but it can also lead to other serious conditions like substance abuse and even suicide. Additionally, the physiological impact of anxiety can lead to serious health problems like headaches, digestive issues, and even heart disease. For this reason, if your child constantly seems anxious, seek professional treatment.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia will often begin in the late teens and early adulthood. If your child starts to talk about things that may indicate psychosis, it is extremely important to take her seriously. Although it only affects about 1% of the population, it can happen and is serious.

Symptoms often present earlier in males than females, and the symptoms tend to present differently between genders. Because early symptoms often manifest themselves as depression and anxiety, you should pay attention to your child’s condition and maintain professional treatment for these disorders.

If you have concerns about your child’s mental health, schedule an appointment with Dr. Moemeka as soon as possible.

This is not a complete list of mental illnesses that your teen may face, so you should always speak with your Coppell pediatrician about your child’s health before making any assumptions.

Eating disorders

Eating disorders are very serious and need treatment. The earlier you can intervene, the better chance your teen has of a successful recovery. These are mental illnesses that can be life-threatening and accompany numerous other mental health concerns. Eating disorders are a serious issue.

If you suspect that your teen is suffering from an eating disorder, seek professional help as soon as possible.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa can show through dramatic weight loss, or an obsession with food, weight, dieting, and exercise. This is a very dangerous eating disorder that can be life-threatening if left untreated. Depending on the severity, it may require in-patient treatment to help your teen make a full recovery.

If you are concerned about your teen’s weight or eating habits, seek treatment as soon as possible.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia is binge eating followed by purging. If your teen is making frequent visits to the bathroom after meals, smells like vomit, has sudden dental issues, or is obsessed with calories and weight, you should intervene. Bulimia Nervosa is a serious issue that can have life-threatening consequences.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating can be a serious problem that, like all other eating disorders, can lead to serious health issues. This specific eating disorder is more than just overindulging at the holidays, and it often comes with feelings of losing control, shame, and guilt. If you notice that your child is consuming large quantities of food and then expressing feelings of guilt, shame, or a lack of control, talk to Dr. Moemeka.

Substance abuse

No parent wants their teen to experience the reality of substance abuse, but it does happen. While short-term substance abuse can hide the symptoms of mental illness, it often worsens them long-term. Illegal substances, particularly alcohol and marijuana, often pressure teens. If you think that your teen is using drugs or alcohol, it is important that you have an open and honest conversation about the reasons behind your child’s choices.

According to the Child Mind Institute, people with untreated mental illness are far more likely to have a substance abuse problem. Whether it’s an effort to self-medicate or a socially-driven choice, substance abuse in teens and young adults is dangerous and can have long-term consequences.

Alcohol affects people with pre-existing mental illnesses differently than people whose brains aren’t affected by mental illness. For instance, children with depression may get more depressed, and children with ADHD can get more impulsive and lead to dangerous, life-threatening decision making.

Because the brain is still developing in teens and young adults, substance addiction is more likely, especially if they are already struggling with an illness like depression or ADHD.

If you suspect that your child has a substance abuse problem, you should take this very seriously and approach the subject gently. Instead of having your child pull away from you, creating open dialogue and a safe environment to face the underlying issue can help the situation.

No two teens are alike, and your situation and teen may be different than others. Call Dr. Moemeka today to schedule an appointment for your child to talk about how to overcome substance abuse.

Self-harm

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, self-harm is quite common among teens and young adults. Essentially, self-harm is the practice of intentionally injuring oneself as means of coping. As humans, developing coping mechanisms is a part of life. However, self-harm is a symptom of severe emotional distress. Self-harm is not in itself a mental illness, but it is indicative of mental illnesses such as depression, eating disorders, PTSD, or borderline personality disorder.

Self-harm is not necessarily an attempt at suicide. While you should watch your teen closely and get them help for their underlying mental health condition, a teen who self-harms is not necessarily suicidal. Although they may be more susceptible to thoughts of suicide, your teen may not be in immediate danger.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Shame culture

Breaking through the stigma of mental illness can be difficult. Especially when everywhere your teen turns depicts perfectly curated lives, airbrushed beauty, impossible standards, and seemingly effortless happiness. As parents, caretakers, teachers, adults, and members of our community, we have to reach out and fight against mental health stigma and make sure that everyone gets the help they truly need.

It can be hard to accept that things like depression, anxiety, and eating disorders are mental illnesses. These are more than just “mental health problems” and require professional medical treatment for people to experience relief and recovery. There is no shame in needing help.

The shame associated with mental illness is real and has stopped people from getting the help they need. So, work with your teen to break the stigma and discuss mental illness and treatment with them. This could save her life or the life of a friend.

Dealing with mental health issues

As a parent, it can be very hard to watch your child struggle with mental health, especially when it involves substance abuse, self-harm, or eating disorders. Detecting the signs of mental illness is the first step to helping your teen recover.

Everyone’s brain works differently, and no two paths to recovery are going to be the same. Be patient, gentle, and understanding with your teen as she works through these issues. She will need a safe space, and you can be that space. Work with your pediatrician, psychologist, and psychiatrist to make sure that your child has the support system and treatment plan she needs to live a full, happy life.

The choice for you and your child

Treating mental health problems and tending to your teen’s emotional health is essential to her overall wellness. At Mark9 Pediatrics, we want you and your child to feel welcomed, respected, and listened to. Creating a support system, especially when you are dealing with mental health, is essential to having a happy, healthy family. Here, we are committed members of your support system and will always be a safe space for you and your teen.

 “Whoever receives a child in my name receives me”

– Mark 9:37

Recognizing mental illness and teenage emotional health can help your teen thrive. Talk to Dr. Moemeka about your teen’s mental health or about how you can get her the appropriate support today. Call Mark9 Pediatrics today at (972) 325-2005 or request an appointment online to reserve your appointment.

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