An often misunderstood and overlooked major problem is teenage mental health and the challenges of being a teenager. Mental illness is just as important as physical ilness, if not more in my opinion, because mental health can actually affect physical health greatly. It can also make it hard to function on a daily basis and affect everyday life, school and even the ability to interact with others.
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It's different for everyone, so there is no rule book of what it looks like or may seem. You never know what someone's going through. But unfortunately, mental health problems are very common for almost 1 in 5 teenagers or young people struggle with a mental illness.
It's not just you
Of course these mental health problems can occur at any age, but sometimes the age and environment of teenagers can add more stress on these problems and make them more difficult to control. However, it is important for you to feel like you're not alone and that many other teenagers are going through the same thing and just like with everything else, despite it not feeling like this right now, things can get better. The first step, however, is understanding what you're going through, so you can start working towards finding help or creating a closer understanding of your health and how to deal with it.
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Note: If you suffer from any or more than one of these problems or you know someone that does, please try getting help. There is absolutely nothing wrong, embarrassing or weak about therapy, but quite the contrary, it shows and takes incredible strength. It has changed so many people's lives for the better. And it might be hard to do so now, but investing time in your wellbeing can literally save your life.
Here are some of the most common teenage mental health problems:
Eating disorders are widely misunderstood and extremely problematic. Although they might be a result of problems with body image, there are other causes or mental health problems that accompany it, like depression and anxiety. There are eating disorder like anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. Body image is unfortunately a common cause and it is highly problematic in the world we live in right now where beauty standards are still unrealistic, especially on social media.
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The power of social media:
Unfortunately social media has taken a dark turn in how it's affecting people's mental health, body image and issues of self worth. Scrolling through apps everyday, seeing and comparing yourself to other people and their lives can greatly affect how you see yourself and your mind can start to alter what it sees as realistic or a 'goal'.
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Also bullying has become not only a problem at school, but on social media as well. Remind yourself as much as you can, that people are only showing other what they want them to see and that the amount followers and likes say nothing about self worth or value. Social media doesn't define who is better than other. Also try to take a break from it every once in a while.
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Anxiety is generally one of the most common mental health problems, but especially with teenagers it can get really heightened because of social anxiety, insecurities, self consciousness, self esteem and pressures to look, perform or act a certain way. Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common form of anxiety at this age and it is excessive anxiety and worry over everyday events or things that might seem normal.
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Anxiety can be very difficult to live with because it really affects one's ability to function on a daily basis, interact with other people and on top of that be expected to perform. Parents can sometimes overlook that and add even more pressure on their kids when it comes to school performance, when it can be something that they're literally not capable of doing at the time.
ADHD interferes with a kid or teenager's functioning and development on a daily basis. It is a mental illness that is also often misunderstood or considered non problematic. There are 3 different types which are hyperactive, inattentive, impulsive or more than one of these. It is common among teens but should be given care and attention just like everything else because it really does affect their life everyday.
Depression & Self Harm
This is one of the most serious and still not talked about enough mental health problems, for both teenager and adults. Suicide is a very serious and common problem among teenagers. The WHO has actually estimated how much it's affecting teenagers these days and you can find that here.
Anxiety, sadness, sleeping too much and feeling empty or numb come hand in hand with depression for a lot of people. It can start with things like low self esteem and not wanting to to do the day to day things that teenagers enjoy to problems with concentrating, sleep and having no energy. It can really affect your ability and will to live, so of course eating, studying or doing anything can be near impossible.
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Depression looks different on everyone but there are some signs, like ones mentioned, that can help you notice if someone you know if suffering from depression or if you have those severe symptoms yourself and you need help. It can be very difficult if you're depressed to want to reach out and seek counseling or help, but try to remember that your happiness is something worth fighting for and your thoughts do not define you or determine anything.