Teen depression often shows up in a loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed, a persistent state of sadness, a sense of hopelessness, and irritability. Other symptoms might include fatigue, changes in appetite and sleep habits, trouble concentrating, angry outbursts, and self-harm.
Teen anxiety expresses by excessive and irrational worry that impact their ability to function. Social anxiety is a common manifestation of anxiety in teens, as self-consciousness, low self-esteem, and fear of being judged keep teens in a state of fear regarding social events.
Teens who suffer from OCD experience obsessive thoughts combined with a compulsive, uncontrollable need to engage in repetitive rituals in order to avoid feelings of anxiety. Their compulsive behaviors can make them the object of ridicule at school or social events, and teens with OCD are often bullied.
Borderline Personality Disorder
Teens with BPD struggle socially. Their disorder impedes their ability to successfully form and maintain lasting friendships because of their tendency toward unpredictable and compulsive behaviors. They may exhibit exaggerated emotional outbursts and frequent mood swings.
Teens with bipolar disorder experience frequent and extreme shifts in mood, from the depths of despair to mania, over a short period of time. During manic phases, teens may exhibit irritability versus adults, who exhibit elation or euphoria during manic phases. Bipolar disorder can lead to substance abuse and high-risk behaviors.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Teens with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) are argumentative and noncompliant with authority figures, and may display chronic aggression, angry outbursts, failure to follow instructions or abide by rules, being easily annoyed, and blame others for their mistakes.
Substance Use Disorder
Teens experimenting with drugs or alcohol may do so out of curiosity, as a result of peer pressure, or as a means of self-medicating a mood disorder. Signs of substance abuse include decline in academic performance, hanging out with a new group of friends, sneaky behavior, money missing from parents wallet, teen displaying bloodshot eyes, dilated or constricted pupils, or smell of marijuana or alcohol.
Teens with both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder have a dual diagnosis. It is not yet understood which disorder causes the other, but a dual diagnosis is fairly common. Treatment will be tailored for the specific substance involved and the diagnosed mental health disorder. Talk therapy, group therapy, medication, and adjunct therapies can work in an integrated fashion to treat both disorders simultaneously.
Teen Grief and Loss
While a teen’s depressive disorder may have been triggered by hormonal fluctuations, genetics, or environmental factors, one of the most delicate issues for a teen to process is the death of a loved one. A teen that is grieving the loss of a parent, grandparent, friend, or sibling may need special care in navigating the powerful emotions around the loss. If the death was sudden and unexpected it could provoke trauma disorder.
Teens do not have the life experience to manage the intense emotions around the death of a loved one. This can result in disruptions in functioning caused by symptoms such as sleep disorder, appetite changes, concentration difficulties, mood swings, and feelings of guilt or shame. Teens may withdraw and isolate themselves, or may turn to using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate the uncomfortable feelings. The residential setting offers teens in mourning a safe place to process the emotions associated with the loss, and to begin the healing process.