The term mental health disorder describes any serious emotional problem that causes distress and requires professional intervention. This type of disruption in both psychological and behavioral functioning can significantly impact how a teen thinks, feels and acts.
Mental health disorders occur on a continuum from mild to severe. Some are short lived, while others may last a lifetime. Early identification and proper diagnosis is critically important as doing so can significantly improve a teen's chances for a full recovery.
In teens, the most common mental health disorders are:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Bipolar and Teenagers
- Eating Disorders
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder ODD
- Substance abuse
- Tourette's Syndrome in Teens
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a comprehensive analysis and listing of the symptoms of all mental health disorders, offers the following definition:
"…each of the mental disorders is conceptualized as a clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an individual and is associated with present distress or disability, or with a significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability or an important loss of freedom."
The reassuring news for a parent whose teen suffers from a mental health disorder is that the condition is treatable and most teens will get relief from some or all of the symptoms they are experiencing. Treatment generally focuses on teaching teens the skills and strategies needed to successfully cope with and manage their specific disorder.