Why do Mental Health Issues Appear in Adolescence?

mental health and adolescence

Why do Mental Health Issues Appear in Adolescence?

According to a Committee on Adolescent Health Care, around half of all mental health issues start by age 14, with more than 75% of individuals with mental health struggles reporting that their mental health significantly affects their everyday functioning by young adulthood. It can be hard to identify signs of mental health disorders during adolescence, especially as some diagnoses require individuals to be 18 years old, but early intervention can help teens learn healthier coping mechanisms. There are a combination of biological, developmental, and social factors that explain why mental health issues often appear in adolescence.

  • Biological Factors

The adolescent brain is developing at a rapid rate, which means that it is easily overstimulated, but it also has high levels of neuroplasticity. This means that the brain is highly adaptable and that adopting healthier behavior patterns can strengthen positive neural connections in the brain.

During adolescence, teens are going through significant hormonal changes and different areas of the brain are developing at different rates, which explains why teens often feel a disconnect between their minds and bodies. For example, the emotional area of one’s brain becomes hyperactive when triggered by hormonal changes, which explains why teens often experience intense emotions and mood swings. However, the decision-making areas of their brain and neural connections between this area and the emotional areas are underdeveloped, so teens struggle to make rational decisions when feeling emotional. 

This may look like increased impulsivity and risk-taking or difficulty describing thoughts and feelings. Because of this, teens who experiment with substances may experience more pronounced effects and are more vulnerable to relying on substances to manipulate their changing brain chemistry.

  • Developmental Factors

Many symptoms of mental health issues remain latent until they are triggered by a stressful situation. Adolescence is known for being a stressful life period, as teens are emotionally mature enough to be aware of their thoughts and feelings but haven’t yet learned skills to cope with problems in a healthy way. This is why teenagers are more likely to perceive stressful life events as traumatic than adults, who are less likely to take risks, more likely to use healthy coping mechanisms, and have more social support.

As a result, everyday stresses that teens experience, like schoolwork, parents’ rules, and relationship drama, are more likely to feel overwhelming. Teens are also more likely to view their experiences as permanent and to believe that they are unique in facing these challenges, which can contribute to a sense of hopelessness about the future.

  • Social Factors

Social stresses tend to peak in adolescence, as teens’ social groups are often dictated by their school environment. Teens place a high value on social status and approval from peers, regardless of how well they connect to this group of people. Adolescence is also a period of exploring values in relationships and bonding with people over shared interests, which can be difficult for teens who are struggling with identity issues and fear of rejection for mental health issues. 

Social support is considered one of the most effective buffers against the effects of mental health issues. 

Why Choose an Adolescent Treatment Center?

Treatment centers that work specifically with adolescents understand the unique challenges that teenagers face and offer developmentally appropriate strategies to help teens with mental health struggles. 

At ViewPoint Center, our primary goal is helping teenagers identify mental health issues they are struggling with and potential triggers or causes, so that they better understand what kind of support they may need to regulate their emotions as stressful situations arise. 

Working with teenagers means that many of the teens we work with have just begun to notice how their mental health has affected their behaviors, academic performance and relationships. Many come to us feeling confused, hopeless, or overwhelmed and are desperate for resources and information about what their next steps may be.

Through sharing in group therapy and collaborating with a multi-disciplinary team of professionals, teenagers learn that they are not alone and that there is hope. Addressing mental health issues that appear in adolescence early on can help them develop the skills they need to succeed beyond their teen years.  

ViewPoint Center Can Help

ViewPoint Center is a specialty hospital for teens who struggle with depression and other mental health issues. ViewPoint Center a comprehensive therapeutic assessment facility that is licensed and provides 24-hour nursing. Viewpoint offers comprehensive assessments. Post evaluation, treatment plans are established to meet the unique needs of each student. By the end of the treatment period at ViewPoint, families have a clear understanding of the child’s diagnoses and are offered full guidance on how to move forward and seek proper treatment.

For more information about our adolescent treatment center, call 385-217-3421.


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