Diagnoses of Mental Illness in Teens Especially Difficult

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For mental health professionals, working with young people presents a real challenge. Especially in teenagers, it can be difficult to determine what are symptoms of mental illness and what are simply symptoms of adolesence.

Though he practices in the West Indies, where things are likely a little different, Dr. Wendel Abel’s article on the subject of mental illness in teens has some valuable takeaways.

He highlights common symptoms of mental illness and, as you will notice, many of them are also commonly associated with a typical teenager.

For instance, children performing poorly in school, becoming withdrawn, communicating less and practicing poor hygiene can all be signs of a mental health problem. Obviously, those could also be a sign you are raising a normal teenager.

Though you don’t want to overreact, ignoring this behavior could prove harmful. Parents should be mindful and watch out for more serious behavioral problems, such as drug use or self-abuse.

As with any disease, the longer a mental illness goes untreated, the worse it gets so in most cases, it is better safe than sorry. However, dragging your 14-year-old son to a psychiatrist because he doesn’t bathe regularly is probably not warranted.

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