Teens are just as vulnerable to developing mental health disorders as adults. In fact, some mental illnesses develop in the teen years.

Other conditions, considered to be “disorders” rather than mental illnesses, such as oppositional defiant disorder, may exist in the teen alongside such illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Some mental illnesses have a biological origin, such as schizophrenia. The teen diagnosed with a mental health disorder needs medication, therapy, and other treatments.

Mental conditions and their impact

Mental illness results from abnormal brain function. It can also stem from the teen’s environment, which may include domestic violence, substance abuse or abuse and neglect.

If mental illness runs in your family, your teen is at an increased risk of developing a mental illness of their own. 20 percent of the U.S. population has been diagnosed with a mental illness.

These people, teens included, didn’t “cause” their condition – it exists, just like asthma or epilepsy exist for others. Youth treatment centers can help your teen to control their mental illness.

What qualifies as a mental illness?

  • Developmental disorders that affect normal brain development
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Mood disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder
  • Addictions
  • Psychotic disorders that affect how you think, behave and perceive the world
  • Behavior disorders
  • Personality disorders

Prescription drug abuse

Teens may begin to abuse prescription drugs, such as Ritalin or Adderall. These medications are used to treat attention deficit disorders. These drugs suppress the appetite, which may lead the patient to believe that, just because it’s a prescription medication, it is harmless, especially if he or she wants to lose a few pounds.

These medications also increase concentration. Taking a medication that hasn’t been prescribed is dangerous. If one becomes dependent on prescription medication, he or she may need to take unhealthy amounts of the drug feel the same effects.

Reasons why patients abuse prescription medications include:

  • Easy to obtain
  • To fit in with other kids
  • Study longer
  • Lose weight
  • Have more fun at get-togethers
  • Because they are “safer” than street drugs

When a drug user takes a medication that has been prescribed for someone else, it is against the law. If caught, the user faces the possibility of being charged with a crime.

Prescription drug abuse can affect a teen’s health. If he or she overdoses on a painkilling medication, it can affect the ability to breathe. Taking a central nervous system depressant with alcohol or other medications slows breathing and heart rate.

If you can’t stop taking someone else’s prescription medications, you need to get specialized help. Your parents, doctor and a mental health specialist can help you get the help you need.

Substance abuse in teenagers

Physically and mentally, teens are more vulnerable to the effects of substances. Because their brains are still developing, the effects of substance abuse can permanently change how their brains function.

When you use a street drug, your brain produces excess levels of dopamine, which makes you feel happy. Over time, your brain begins to “need” the drug because it wants good feelings again. As you continue to use the drug, your brain produces lower and lower amounts of dopamine.

If you or your family believe you are addicted to street drugs, teenage drug counseling may help you to look at why you abuse drugs.

Teenage drug counseling

Drug counseling in an inpatient treatment center can help you address why you are dependent upon drugs. When you are admitted to a treatment center, you will begin individual and group counseling.

You’ll also be required to stop using drugs – depending on your level of dependence, you may need medical help to help you stop taking them. A good inpatient treatment center should have medical staff on hand to administer medications that reduce the physical reactions of your body as you are detoxed from the street drugs.

Once you have stopped using drugs, you will start counseling and develop coping skills to help you stay away from drugs.

Copyright © 2012-2024 Learning Mind. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.

power of misfits book banner desktop

Like what you are reading? Subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss new thought-provoking articles!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Jeremiah Josey

    Ahh, the age old conundrum of bringing young humans into the wider community fold… What problems it now causes. I don’t know of any doing it right. Many used to.

    For instance like the Australian Aborigines. They would skip this strange, recently created and labeled phase called “adolescence” and instead would make boys into men and girls into women in swift, brief, ceremonies over a number of days. Then with their large social support system these new entrants into adulthood would grow into balanced, contributing members.

    Middle Eastern dewaniya practice is also very good for convergence from one child into adult.

    There are many directions to take such a topic:

    Firstly, “adolescence” is a term created by a society itself lost in it’s ultimate purpose and now uses the new time wedged between child and adult to thoroughly indoctrinate those coming up into it into a system just doesn’t feel quite right.

    Secondly, there is no such thing as personal physiological disorders, only social ones. We are born perfect in every way, even our minds are perfect. It is just the bending, the molding and the reforming into the unnatural shapes “preferred” by society that creates the disconnection to ourselves. It then that the “personal disorders” manifest. The person may rupture and break (like depression, or so called schizophrenia – flipping from ones normal state to a social non functional monster). Or should they have too much independence, cause mischief and outward disruption and then be promptly shuffled into detention – almost 1% of the US population is held in prisons in this way.

    Third, the western “health system” is now a surrogate for family connection and community. Many people have become sick just to get the attention they would have received if they were in an “extended” family. Consciously do they do this? No. But anatomically, with millions of years of breeding into a social animal, a hospital can become the best place to satisfy that inbuilt need for community and family.

    Fourth, schools have become houses of indoctrination and standardization doing nothing more than creating compliant factory drones. A 100 year old system in fact.

    And fifth, drugs! From plants! Psilocybin, psychotropics, cannabis, cocaine, opium, ayahuasca, and so on. Many used (and still used) for thousands of years to enhance and advance societies en-mass.

    (Alcohol is from plants; tobacco is from plants; caffeine is from plants – who are we kidding!)

    Ah, so disorders of the mind in teenagers. Nothing more than symptoms of a much wider issue. Perhaps too big for many to even comprehend that there is a wider issue in the first place. We are still a very young society to see these issues for what they really are, perhaps then the ultimate solutions will elude us as a whole for some time to come.

    “It’s OK to be eccentric, as long are you are rich; otherwise you’re just crazy”. Yvon Chouinard, 2005

    I speak further on different community values (in one large community) here:


  2. Otto Bhan

    Good article Marissa. Your words and work are important and needed in societies and cultures the world over. Would that we could all be aborigines or dewaniya devotees… but alas, we have not yet been convinced of the superior merits of those systems. Until then, its a comfort hearing from people who want to work with what ‘is’, rather than condemn and proffer utopia in a large community of threatening aliens. Here we come indeed. You folks need somewhere to go, doubtless, given the state of your origins and economic/political systems.

    Otto knows better

Leave a Reply