“Troubled teen,” what a disparaging term that is. This widely used label only serves to minimize what could be a serious mental health crisis, or stigmatize a teen who is simply struggling with typical teenage angst. Without a doubt, passing through the tumultuous phase of adolescence can cause emotional strife and behavioral upheaval. If, however, the teen is also suffering from a clinically defined mental health disorder, such as bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, major depressive disorder, eating disorder, social anxiety, or personality disorder, their state of psychological functioning may be seriously impaired.
Teens are complex beings, half-child, half-adult, who struggle to reconcile both sides of their identity. Sometimes hesitant to leave childhood behind, other times rushing into adulthood too soon, this balancing act can result in confusion and emotional turmoil. Add to the mix mood swings caused by fluctuating hormones, school-related stressors, and exposure to social media shaming or bullying, and the teen may find him or herself in crisis.
But at what point does a parent know their child’s emotional problems are serious enough to consider inpatient treatment for teens Los Angeles? Generally, there are two situations that can alert parents that their teen needs more intensive, focused intervention: an acute mental health crisis or a worsening chronic mental health condition. But first, what are the signs that your teen might be struggling with a mental health disorder?
Warning Signs of Teen Mental Illness
If a parent is to be honest with themself, they will remember their own emotional outbursts, slammed doors, social drama and tear fests as teenagers. These are normal, typical adolescent behaviors that all of us experienced to some degree. Because we remember the tumultuous teen years, it may be easy to discount signs of emotional problems in one’s own teenaged child. Parents are proud of their children and shift smoothly into denial mode if they sense, or are notified by school officials or other parents, that their teen may have serious emotional issues.
There are certain behaviors that can signal that a mental health problem might be developing. These signs might include:
- The teen is isolating, seeking increasing amounts of alone time
- The teen seems to have lost enthusiasm for participating in the sports, clubs, peer activities, or family functions they once enjoyed.
- The teen exhibits extreme anger and/or aggressive behavior
- The teen begins neglecting their appearance or hygiene habits
- The teen complains of frequent headaches or stomachaches
- The teen’s academic performance plummets
- The teen begins ditching school
- The teen exhibits feelings of despair or hopelessness
- The teen exhibits anxiety symptoms
- The teen engages in substance abuse
- The teen engages in high risk behaviors, such as dangerous driving or unprotected, promiscuous sexual behaviors
- The teen states they are hearing or seeing things that others do not
- The teen sleeps excessively or struggles with insomnia
- The teen’s eating habits change, resulting in significant weight gain or weight loss
When a cluster of these signs and symptoms emerge, it is appropriate to have the teen evaluated, first by a medical doctor. If the physician finds no connection to a health condition, a referral to a psychiatrist is in order.
Long-term Inpatient Treatment for Teens Los Angeles
When an adolescent is under the outpatient care of a mental health practitioner they will be prescribed psychotherapy sessions, possibly family therapy, and sometimes antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. Periodic check-ups with the psychiatrist allow the doctor to monitor any changes so they can adjust medication or the level of psychotherapy involvement.
In some cases, the teen’s condition does not improve, even with subsequent changes in dosing or medication and ongoing therapy. Signs and symptoms of a deteriorating chronic mental health disorder might include a worsening of the above list of symptoms, significantly impacting the teen’s ability to function at school or work. When the teen’s mental health deteriorates while in outpatient care, a step up to intensive inpatient mental health treatment may be appropriate. An inpatient program can provide a more targeted and comprehensive approach to treatment, potentially heading off a future acute psychiatric crisis.
Within a safe and nurturing environment away from potential triggers, the adolescent can open up and engage in a deeper examination of their emotional issues, past traumas, or life circumstances that might be inhibiting improvement. Teen inpatient programs are specialized to acknowledge the unique features of teen mental health and emotional development, and will create an individualized treatment plan accordingly. Deriving a treatment strategy from a range of therapeutic philosophies and activities, treatment includes individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, recreational therapy, and experiential activities.
Inpatient Acute Stabilization for Teens
Some high-functioning teens may be adept at hiding their emotional struggles from parents and teachers. They may display certain symptoms, such as declining grades or problems with peers, but hide the fact that they are engaging in self-harming behaviors or substance abuse. The teen may have been exhibiting some signs of depression, but parents might just assume it is typical teenage moodiness.
Sadly, too often a teen will shock their families and friends by attempting, and sometimes completing, suicide. That may be the first indication that a parent had that their child was in intense emotional pain. In other cases, a teen may begin acting out in ways that can alert the family that they are in need of serious psychiatric intervention. These signs might include:
- Suicide ideation with means and/or intent to follow through
- Recent suicide attempt
- Violent or aggressive behavior
- Severe anxiety
- Severe depression
- Severe effects of bipolar disorder
- Co-occurring substance abuse with any of the above symptoms
A teen inpatient mental health program will provide acute stabilization for teens displaying signs of a mental health crisis. In most cases, the teen will remain in the treatment center for about five days, allowing time for the episode to become stabilized, have medications reviewed and adjusted, and to receive intensive therapy.
BNI Treatment Centers Provides Inpatient Treatment for Teens Los Angeles
BNI Treatment Centers is a trusted resource for treating teens, ages 12-17, with acute or chronic mental health conditions in Los Angeles, California. BNI Treatment Centers uses a bio-psycho-social approach that identifies each teen’s strengths and helps them, using various forms of therapy, achieve their maximum potential. For more information about our inpatient program for teens, please contact us today at (888) 522-1504.