Mental health never takes a day off. It doesn’t matter if things seem to be going well or if the world feels like it’s crashing down on you. There’s always something you can do to help promote your child’s mental health and overall well-being. Think about an activity your child is involved in. Whether it be a sport, a musical instrument, or an academic club, if your family is serious about your child’s involvement, you likely will not take a day off from doing at least one thing that can help further their progress. Consistency is key for those who are trying to build the work ethic and skills that can help you succeed. Mental healthcare is just like all of these other things. It’s important that as your child’s caregiver, you know the warning signs that something may be wrong. It’s much better that you be proactive in helping stop a potential problem before it becomes an actual problem. The last place you want to be is wishing you had done something that wouldn’t lead you to a reactive state when you could have been proactive. Sustain Recovery knows it isn’t always easy, so we’re here to help you learn the warning signs that may signal a mental health issue.
The Numbers Behind Mental Health
There’s a common misconception among some people that adolescents and young adults cannot possibly experience a mental illness because they do not have the responsibilities that actual adults have and have not had actual experiences that can contribute to a mental illness. This is completely false. Mental illness does not discriminate. An adolescent or young adult who is struggling with a mental illness is valid. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that, 1 in 6 youth in the United States between the ages of 6 and 17 are diagnosed with a mental illness each year. Furthermore, half of all lifetime mental illnesses begin by age 14 and 75% begin by age 24. If you notice that your child is struggling or they are bringing up feelings that point to a mental illness, Sustain Recovery urges you to take your child’s struggles seriously. The earlier you get your child help, the sooner the recovery process can begin.
Warning Signs of an Anxiety Disorder
As a parent, it can be difficult to decide which behaviors are typical of regular adolescent experiences and which behaviors point toward a sign of an anxiety disorder. After all, anxiety is a common thing that all of us has experienced at some point or another. There is, however, a time when too much anxiety can cause serious damage. Seven percent of children between the ages of 3 and 17 experience issues with anxiety each year, says the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
There are a few different types of anxiety disorders and they each have different symptoms. All anxiety disorders, however, have this in common: “a persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening.” Below are some common symptoms of anxiety that exist across most anxiety disorders.
- Feelings of apprehension or dread
- Feeling tense or jumpy
- Restlessness or irritability
- Anticipating the worst and being watchful for signs of danger
- Pounding or racing heart and shortness of breath
- Sweating, tremors, and twitches
- Headaches, fatigue, and insomnia
- Upset stomach, frequent urination, or diarrhea
While these symptoms generally appear in a variety of anxiety disorders, each type also has its own symptoms that can interfere with daily life. Below are some types of anxiety disorders and some of their specific symptoms.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Chronic, exaggerated worry about everyday life
- Extreme exhaustion due to constant worrying
- Accompanied by headaches, tension, or nausea
Social Anxiety Disorder
- Fear of social interaction
- Fear of humiliation
- Extreme shyness
- Panic attacks can occur as a reaction to anticipated or forced social interaction
- Panic attacks
- Sudden feelings of terror which can occur repeatedly and without warning
- Can manifest in physical symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness, trouble breathing
- Intense and irrational fear about a certain place, event, or object
- Specific things can trigger this panic
- Avoidance can occur to try to avoid the trigger
Warning Signs of a Depressive Disorder
While sadness is an emotion that is a healthy reaction to common situations, depression is much more than just feeling sad. Depression can occur in the absence of a negative or traumatic event and can disrupt your child’s daily functioning. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 13% of children between the ages of 12 to 17 have a major depressive episode each year.
Depression can look different from person to person, but most people’s daily functions are impacted for more than two weeks when they are struggling with depression. Below are some common symptoms that present in a majority of people with a depressive disorder
- Changes in sleep
- Changes in appetite
- Lack of concentration
- Loss of energy
- Lack of interest in activities
- Hopelessness or guilty thoughts
- Changes in movement (less activity or agitation)
- Physical aches and pains
- Suicidal thoughts
There are many things that can contribute to depression, which point toward the belief that there is no single cause of depression. Trauma can play a role in contributing to depression, especially when the trauma occurs at an early age. The brains of adolescents who experience trauma are often impacted regarding how their brains respond to fear and stress, all of which can contribute to depression. It’s also important to look at family history of depression because it has been linked to a genetic component. Furthermore, some groups of people are more likely to experience depression. Those who do not have their basic needs met, such as those who live in poverty, are more prone to developing depression. Those struggling with substance abuse are also more likely to suffer from depression.
Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental illnesses that can plague adolescents. While there are other challenges that adolescents may face, these two particular mental health issues stand at the forefront of what adolescents are struggling with today. There are clear signs and symptoms of both depression and anxiety that can help you determine if you need to be concerned. Being proactive about addressing potential mental health issues is key to treating a mental illness. At Sustain Recovery we understand what you and your child are going through. If your child is struggling with depression, anxiety, or are exhibiting other concerning signs, be proactive and reach out to Sustain Recovery today. We can help you get your child the help they need. Call us now at (949) 407-9052. We can’t wait to speak with you and get your family the help you need.