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.


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