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Oh the teen years! While they have always been a challenge to parents, teen issues are much more intense these days. Gen Z, the current crop of teens, is grappling with a quickly shifting culture. Tech advances happen at lightning speed and have a huge impact on teens and their futures. This can be good or bad, as excess social media use is showing us.
The human connection is moving away from the face-to-face version towards mostly digital. There is a vacuum now because of that. Now this space is being filled with video games, texting, and social media. While losing the human touch affects us all, it is having an outsized effect on our teens.
But there is more to teen strife than just social media. Teens face intense demands at school. They feel so much pressure to fit in and follow a certain pathway. This can cause many teens to fall through the cracks in high school.
Family problems, low self-esteem, and being bullied can also stoke depression and anxiety. The teen years are hard enough, as they shift from childhood to adults. Now, though, there seem to be even more pressures on kids, and it is having a negative effect on teens.
Teen Issues and Mental Health
Today’s teens struggle quite a bit with stress and anxiety. Intense worry or fear are hallmarks symptoms of anxiety. Teens may find they are not able to function because of this mental health disorder. Self-harm is all too common, acting as an outlet for feelings of anxiety and distress. Some teens might turn to substance abuse to help manage their anxiety.
While depression affects both sexes, rates are nearly three times higher in teen girls. A few factors help explain the much higher rates of depression in teen girls. These include changing hormones, concerns about body image, and social drama. Teens that struggle with depression symptoms, like feeling sad, hopeless, weight changes, sleep issues, loss of interest, should be assessed.
Pressure to succeed
An intense push has been underway for teens to prepare for the college application process as early as middle school. High schools begin grooming teens for the process early on, and there is social pressure put on teens to comply. While many teens can manage these pressures to succeed, some teens find it to be too much.
Body image issues
There is also more social pressure to conform to a certain look or body type. Girls are often very focused on their body image and weight issues. Boys also feel pressure to have a masculine physique. Body dysmorphic disorder is when the teen perceives flaws or defects that aren’t there. This is a common problem among teens in a culture where they are judged by how they look.
Teens have always been harsh judges of each other. In the era of social media, though, that abuse happens at a whole new level. Cyber bullies on social media are common, as is social shaming, cyber stalking, and all types of drama. Social media platforms can also create a false image of perfection through the use of filters that alter photos. This creates a new standard of “perfect” that few can ever attain.
Teen sex has always been a source of stress. Now with cell phones, “sexting” (texting nude photos) has become a problem with teens as young as age 11 or 12. Easy access to porn has also caused problems. Sex is no longer viewed as something special, but looked upon as a routine activity that most teens engage in.
Teens trying substances and smoking are not new issues. There are reasons to be more concerned in current times. Marijuana is actually used more than smoking cigarettes among today’s teens, and vaping poses its own issues with THC-infused products.
Mental Health Treatment for Teenage Issues Today
Parents today are challenged to fully grasp the many types of teen distress. They struggle to know if it is time to have a teen assessed if they display red flags. It is hard to know whether a teen’s angst over their body image or a failed romance is typical. However, there are some warning signs that can tip parents off that their teen should be seen by a doctor. These include:
- Loss of interest in the things they once enjoyed.
- Sleep problems.
- Sudden weight changes.
- Teen wears long sleeves even in hot weather.
- Extreme fatigue.
- Extreme mood swings.
- Sudden decline in grades.
- Social isolation
- Aggression, angry outbursts.
- Complaints of headaches, stomach problems, vague pain.
- Signs of substance abuse.
Initially, a doctor will assess the teen and decide if there is a health issue causing the symptoms. If it is found that there is no such health problem, the teen will be referred to a mental health expert.
A psychiatrist will engage the teen by talking with him or her about current symptoms. The doctor can gain some insights about what might be going on when asking about home and school life. Once the diagnosis is arrived at, the doctor will create a treatment plan. This will likely be therapy and sometimes meds, depending on how severe the symptoms are. For teens with a prolonged mental health issue that is getting worse, a residential treatment program for teens will be recommended.
BNI Treatment Centers of Los Angeles for Teen Mental Health Treatment
BNI Treatment Centers is a residential mental health program designed for teens ages 12-17. When a teen’s mental health is getting worse, even while under a doctor’s care, they may need more tailored treatment. BNI Treatment is aligned with the interests and needs of teens through a diverse menu of activities. For more help about getting treatment for your teen, please reach out BNI Treatment today at (888) 522-1504.