Facts Parents Should Know about Mental Illness in Teens

Facts Parents Should Know about Mental Illness in Teens

Depression can be a difficult condition for teens to deal with. It’s not uncommon for them to withdraw from others, feel hopeless or have difficulty sleeping. In some cases, depression in teens can be an indication of a serious mental illness like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. There are several steps that parents can take to help their children through this difficult time:

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 20% of youth ages 13-18 live with a mental health condition.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 20% of youth ages 13-18 live with a mental health condition. This is higher than the general population, which is around 5%. It’s also an increase from previous estimates of 15%.

There are many reasons why this number may be higher for teens than adults:

  • Teens are more prone to suicidal thoughts and behaviors because they’re still developing their coping skills; they’re also less likely to seek help due to shame or embarrassment about what they’re going through

NAMI also estimates that 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and 75% by age 24.

NAMI also estimates that 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and 75% by age 24. That means that if you have a child who struggles with symptoms like depression or anxiety, it’s important to know about these statistics so you can help them get treatment.

If your teen is experiencing symptoms like these, it’s time for intervention! In fact, NAMI recommends starting therapy as early as possible (ideally before the age of 12). You can start by talking with your child about their feelings and connecting with them on an emotional level; this will allow you two work together in order to get through any issues they may be having.

Symptoms of depression may look different in teens than in adults.

Depression symptoms in teens may look different than they do in adults. In fact, many of the signs and symptoms of depression are similar between children and adolescents, but there are some differences. Depression in teenagers might include irritability, anger or hostility; loss of interest in things that were once fun; trouble sleeping; loss of appetite; feelings that life has no meaning (meaninglessness); feelings like guilt or worthlessness often accompanied by suicidal thoughts. Other signs of depression can be withdrawn behavior such as isolating yourself from friends or family members, appearing unmotivated to do anything constructive during the day (for example, not finishing homework), becoming tearful easily and refusing to go out with friends even for things that would normally be enjoyable activities like playing video games together or watching movies together at home!

It’s normal for teens to experience mood swings, but sometimes these can be a sign of something more serious.

Mood swings are common for teens. In fact, they’re more likely to experience mood swings than adults. However, when a teen experiences abnormal mood swings like depression or anxiety, it’s important to know the difference between normal and abnormal mood swings.

Mood disorders are one of the most common conditions among teens and young adults. According to National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 16 percent of all people age 12-17 years old will have some type of mental illness at some point during their lifetime; however, only about half receive treatment for it.*

If you notice that your child is experiencing changes in behavior or thinking patterns that make him seem different from other kids who are his age—like suddenly losing interest in something he used to love doing—it could be a sign that something’s going on with him mentally. In these cases we recommend seeking help from an adult who knows how to recognize signs associated with mental illnesses such as depression or bipolar disorder so you can get help quickly if needed!

Depression may cause teens to withdraw from others and appear to not care about anything.

Depression can cause a person to withdraw from others and appear to not care about anything. A person who is depressed might have low energy, low spirits and a lack of interest in activities that they normally enjoy. Depression can also make it difficult to concentrate on schoolwork or daily tasks like doing their homework or going outside for the day’s activities.

Depression can affect teens in many ways: Some may become physically ill; others may just feel sad or hopeless all the time without any physical symptoms at all; while still others may experience both physical illness and emotional problems simultaneously (for example: feeling sick but not knowing why). People with depression often feel as though they have lost control over their lives—they don’t feel like doing anything because nothing seems worthwhile anymore!

Other signs of depression in teens include irritability, anger or hostility.

It’s also important to know that a teen may be depressed if they exhibit one or more of the following signs:

  • Irritability
  • Anger or hostility
  • Withdrawal from friends and family members, including an absence of communication with them. They may also be sad, lonely and hopeless about their future.
  • Lack of interest in activities they used to enjoy doing such as sports or school work (they may sleep too much). When depressed teens do manage to participate in these activities, it can often feel like an effort instead of something fun. In fact, some research suggests that when parents force their children into activities such as playing video games or watching TV despite their reluctance at first, this could contribute towards the development of emotional problems later on down the line!

Getting help early can prevent depression from getting worse, or turning into another mental illness such as anxiety or psychosis.

It is important to get help early if you think you have depression, even if it’s only mild. Depression can lead to other mental illnesses like anxiety or psychosis and the sooner you start treating it, the better your chances of avoiding these conditions.

The sooner that people seek treatment for depression, the more likely they are to be successful in overcoming their symptoms and keeping their illness from worsening over time. Early intervention can also help prevent suicide as well as other self-harming behaviors like cutting or burning oneself with cigarettes or alcohol products (like absinthe).

Having a parent who has a mental illness puts teens at an increased risk for developing one themselves.

Having a parent who has a mental illness puts teens at an increased risk for developing one themselves. However, it’s not a given that you will develop one if your parent has had one. Genetics play a role too—but they’re not the only factor involved in whether you have or don’t have mental health problems as an adult. Environment also plays an important role in this process: your life experiences can shape how you think and feel about yourself and others around you, which may affect the way those feelings manifest themselves later on in life (for example, if someone grows up surrounded by drug abuse but never sees it firsthand).

If there are signs that your teen might be struggling with mental health issues like depression or anxiety (which both affect over 10% of teens), it’s important for him or her to talk openly about these feelings with an adult so that he/she knows how best to deal with them before things get out of hand.

Seeking help is not an admission of failure, but rather a sign of strength.

There are many resources for teens and families dealing with a mental illness. Some of these include:

  • Professional help from a therapist, doctor, or coach
  • Family support groups such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which can be found at nami.org/find-help/find-a-nami-statewide-contact

There are lots of treatments that can help improve quality of life for those with mental illness.

There are lots of treatments that can help improve quality of life for those with mental illness. Some of these treatments include medication, talk therapy and self-help tools such as mindfulness and exercise.

Medications are often prescribed to relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. In some cases, they may be used in combination with other therapies or simply alone as a treatment for depression or anxiety disorders when traditional talk therapy isn’t enough to manage the symptoms fully but still requires more than medication alone can provide (for example if it’s not working well enough).


Mental illness is a serious issue, and it’s important to take steps to learn more about it. If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or reach out for help. If your teen is experiencing severe depression or anxiety and doesn’t want to talk about it with anyone in their life, seek professional help from a mental health specialist such as a psychiatrist or psychologist.

If questions arise about what kind of assistance your child needs for mental health issues that may be affecting him/her negatively (such as bullying), ask them directly—but remember not everyone will respond equally well depending on their personality type! For example: Some kids find talking about feelings easier than others; some kids may need more reassurance than others before they feel comfortable opening up completely (or ever); while other teens might not respond well at all until they’ve reached an age where they’re comfortable sharing things like this publicly (which could happen as early as high school).


We hope that this article has been helpful to you in understanding what it means to be a parent of a teen with mental illness. We know how challenging it can be, and we’re here to help. If you’re worried about your child, reach out right away! At the top of this post is a link where you can find local resources like NAMI or therapists who specialize in working with teens.



Emma is a health enthusiast, skilled blogger, and website manager dedicated to promoting primary health and wellness through Vital Primary Health.

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