What is Normal and What is Disorder

Posted on August 15, 2018

Mental health is a burgeoning problem for teenagers. In fact, the number of reports of symptoms of clinical depression for the adolescent age group increased by 37 percent in the past decade. This spells a problem for diagnosis as many mental health disorders manifest in adolescence, where separating legitimate symptoms of psychological problems from “growing pains” may at times be a very tricky task. In fact, “half of all mental-health conditions emerge by age 14, and three-quarters by 24”, says Steven Adelsheim, director of the Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing.

It may be difficult to recognize and separate symptoms of psychological distress from the usual erratic behavior common of teenagers. However, parents can start by remembering one key tip: when the behavior displayed by your child is not usual for them and lasts several weeks.

As a parent, you are in the best position to know your child’s baseline habits and behavioral patterns – that is, behavior that is normal and typical for them. When their behavior starts to deviate from this baseline pattern and lasts more than a couple of weeks, it may be time to start getting them to open up about possible problems they may be facing and perhaps consider getting in touch with a mental health practitioner.

Areas you can look out for include daily routines such as whether there are disruptions in terms of sleep cycle, appetite, weight, friendships and even hygiene.

However, it is worth noting that if your child is still maintaining the usual social circle and partaking in the same activities, then the undesirable behavior may simply be temporary and a result of growing pains.

Lastly, it is also important to create a safe space so that your child can feel comfortable opening up to you. Instead of explicitly asking them to talk about their feelings, perhaps propose an activity that the both of you enjoy doing and would provide the necessary platform to get your child more willing to open up.

Category(s):Adjusting to Change / Life Transitions, Child and/or Adolescent Issues, Child Development, Depression, Parenting

Source material from Seattle Times

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