Mental Health Disorders in Adolescents
Mental Health Disorders in Adolescents
Mental health is defined as the state wherein mental function is successfully carried out ensuing productive activities, being able to have satisfactory relationships with other people, and enabling the adaptation to change and any harsh conditions - Mental Health Disorders in Adolescents introduction. This state of the mind is essential in the well-being of a person, interpersonal relationships, and the persons’ input in the society. Mental health does not necessarily mean being devoid of problems rather it is measured in an individual’s capacity to adapt and surpass the physical, emotional, and mental challenges that are components of life(USDHHS).
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The possession of mental health is important in living a fruitful life and facing the obstacles along the way. In adolescents, there is greater need of mental health because their normal development and functioning is still in progression. Disturbances in their mental health thus impede the formation of their normal development and functioning as individuals of the society. The disturbances in mental health can be in the form of mental disorders or illnesses. These are diseases affect the way individuals think, feel, and act in response to the demands of the society and the situations in life(SAMHSA).
In every five adolescent, one of them is afflicted with any mental disorder. Manifestations of mental illnesses in adolescents are: family conflicts, failure in school, violence, suicide, and drug abuse. These mental disorders are not only problems of the afflicted adolescent’s family but to the society as well(SAMHSA). The common mental disorders that affect adolescents are: schizophrenia, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and bipolar disorder(NIMI).
Schizophrenia is a disabling brain disorder that is chronic and severe. In United States, 1 percent of the population is affected by this disease. Individuals with this condition suffer from hallucinations, distorted thinking, and decreased capacity to feel the normal emotions. Schizophrenics have terrifying experiences that include hearing voices that only they could hear and believe that other people are controlling their minds or planning of harming them. Fear , withdrawal from people, and sometimes extreme agitation are the responses of schizophrenics to the frightening experiences they undergo(NIMI). Other clinical manifestations of this disorder include: difficulty in speaking and expressing emotions; troubles concerning attention, memory and organization; movement disorder; and bizarre thoughts or perceptions.
The complex illness called schizophrenia is of five types: catatonic, disorganized, paranoid, residual, and undifferentiated. The clinical manifestations of this illness vary according to type. The catatonic type is characterized by agitation, decreased pain sensitivity, motor disturbances, stupor, muscle rigidity, and negative feelings. On the other hand, the paranoid type experience: anger, violence, delusions of persecution or grandeur, anxiety and argumentativeness. The onset of this disease in children happens mostly after development but it can also start at age 5. In children, this illness is difficult to distinguish from other mental disorders such as autism(Ballas).
Another mental illness that can occur in adolescents is depression. Other terms for this condition are: major depressive disorder, unipolar depression, dysthymic disorder, and clinical disorder. This mental illness is not like the ordinary feeling of being “blue” for a few days because it involves the brain of the afflicted individual. The clinical manifestations are: weight gain or loss; sadness; energy loss; difficulty in sleeping or oversleeping; self pity; loss of pleasure or interest in the things previously enjoyed; and suicide thoughts. Women are predominant victims of this disease and it begins between ages of 15 to 30 (“Depression”). This disorder could also occur in young children and teens. Depression can be catalyzed by: stress and hormonal changes, loss of a loved one, and any traumatic event.
The manifestation of this disorder varies with the people affected by it. Depression can alter the daily routine of individuals afflicted by it. Adolescents with depression will have problems in going to school and relationships with their peers and family. The education of the adolescent with depression is thus compromised.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that affects 3-5% of the children in United States. The main characteristics of this disorder are: hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity. The underlying cause of this disorder is not known until now. Genetics is considered a factor in the occurrence of ADHD because it can occur in multiple members of a family(“Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder”). Symptoms of ADHD are: squirming, wiggling, and fidgeting at all time; acting without thinking; and daydreaming(NIMI). The chances of persistence of ADHD until teenage years are 80% among children diagnosed with this condition(“Adhd and Teens”).
Adolescents diagnosed with ADHD have increased driving risks due to their attention deficiencies, risk-taking tendencies, impulsivity, thrill-seeking tendencies, and immature judgment. Thus, proper caution should be employed in allowing teens with ADHD to drive. Parents should not allow them to drive without an elder as companion and their behavior towards driving should be stabilized first before allowing them to drive(Barkley).
Bipolar disorder or manic depressive disorder is a mental condition wherein the individual afflicted will experience extreme changes of moods or “mood swings”. This disorder causes the affected persons to feel from extreme happiness and joy to sadness and hopelessness. The person with bipolar disorder can experience normal mood in between the mood swings. The term for the happy feeling of an individual with bipolar disorder is mania while depression means the down feeling(“Bipolar Disorder”). The symptoms of this disease condition include: social withdrawal and isolation; absence of motivation and extreme indifference; excessive alcohol or drug use; inadequate or too much sleeping habit; severe fearfulness; and deteriorating grades.
In United States, 5.7 million people are afflicted with bipolar disorder. There is no gender predisposition of this disorder and it occurs worldwide. Among the young adults or adolescents, 14 to 18% were diagnosed with this medical illness. Twenty percent of the adolescents diagnosed with depression (unipolar disorder) develop bipolar disorder after five years of depression onset(“Bipolar Disorder Statistics”). Genetic predisposition is a factor in the development of this disorder because it can affect various members of the family. The common time of manifestation of this disorder occurs during adolescence(“Bipolar Disorder”).
The above mentioned disorders are not the only common mental disorders afflicting the adolescents rather those are only a few of them. The effect of mental disorders in the lives of the affected adolescents is enormous because it concerns various aspects of the young adult’s life. Adolescents with mental disorders are often misunderstood by the people that surround them especially if their condition has not been diagnosed yet. The absence of through understanding regarding the condition of adolescents with mental disorders often leads to consequences that harm the mentally ill adolescent. Among these disastrous consequences is suicide of the mentally ill adolescent. Suicide is the third primary cause of death in young adults from age 15 to 24. Another terrible consequence of mental health disorders in adolescents is their involvement in juvenile and criminal justice. Usually those that end up in jails and prisons are mentally ill adolescents that did not have proper treatment or therapy for their specific condition(CMHR).
Mentally ill adolescents that do not suffer the extreme consequences of their condition are plagued with emotional, physical, and mental problems. The physical problems are basically associated to their physical health. It is learned that mentally disordered adolescents are of poorer state of physical health compared to the mentally healthy young adults. Usually the adolescents with mental disorder utilize more health care services and acquire higher expenses for health care compared to the adolescents with normal mental health(CMHR). The mental health afflicted young adults also experience an inferior and problematic social life as a result of their illness. Only a few people can understand the condition of individuals with mental disorders thus interacting with other people is often difficult.
The education of these adolescents is also compromised because their illness causes problems in listening, absorption, and retention of the lessons in school. In mentally disordered young adults from age 14 and above, the drop out risk is estimated to be 50% of their population(CMHR). The adolescents with mental disorders need to have a special education system that suits their needs because they have different capabilities than the normal health individuals of their age. Incorporating these mentally ill adolescents to mentally healthy individuals will not be an effective form of education system because they will have difficulty coping up with the lessons and might be discriminated by their peers.
Early diagnosis and proper treatments coupled with love and understanding from the people that surround them will benefit the adolescents that are afflicted with mental disorders. Understanding thoroughly the details of their condition and application of useful mentally ill patient handling techniques will make the life of these adolescents better despite of their condition.
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