What is considered normal teenage behavior? The answer seems to change depending on where you go, be it the psychology section in the bookstore or a casual conversation you have with your friends. Dealing with difficult teens can be a trying process when you feel you’re low on options and aren’t sure what’s causing depressive or anxious symptoms. Thankfully, the Internet has proved to be one of the most vital resources for people of all shapes and sizes. If you want to learn how parents can improve communication with teenagers or simply want a better idea as to what constitutes normal teenage behavior, continue reading to learn more about mental health and personality disorders. A little knowledge goes a long way on the journey to recovery.
Let’s start off with mental health. In the next 24 hours, it’s estimated over 1,400 teenagers will attempt suicide. Ongoing surveys in the past few years have revealed over two million adolescents between the ages of 12 to 17 having at least one major depressive episode, adding up to 10% of the adolescent population in the United States. Over 20% of teenagers will experience depression before they reach adulthood, increasing their risk for attempting suicide 12 times. Depression is a form of mental illness that negatively impacts physical and emotional health, with symptoms including lethargy, lack of interest in hobbies, social withdrawal, risky behavior and drug use.
Anxiety and depression in teens can be caused by a variety of factors, with bullying one of the most common. Studies have shown one in three students involved in bullying. Although school violence on the whole has seen a significant decline, bullying behaviors have increased by 5%. While some may address this as an unfortunate side effect of normal teenage behavior, bullying has serious detrimental side-effects and can cause depressive or anxious symptoms in adolescents if not properly addressed and treated. Learning how to talk to your teenager when they seem troubled or nervous about attending school is one of many simple steps you can take to improve their emotional and mental health.
School can be an extremely stressful environment for both social and familial reasons. According to a recent CNN poll of over 4,500 high school students, over 75% admitted to participating in ‘serious cheating’, with another half confessing to plagiarizing answers off of the Internet. Between 2001 and 2008, the percentage of those who reported grade pressure as a ‘major’ issue has risen by 45%. These elements and more can contribute to depression, anxiety and eating disorders.
Multiple surveys have been conducted to analyze the rate of eating disorders in various populations and how they affect both mental health and day-to-day life. Over 50% of college-aged girls feel pressured to maintain a certain weight, with another third of people attempting consistent diets. The majority of those with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25, though only 10% of people suffering from this disorder will seek professional help.
Talking With Your Teenager
Whether you suspect your child has an eating disorder or is suffering from depression, the most important first step is opening up and talking to them. Normal teenage behavior should not include harmful behaviors that negatively impact their schooling and interpersonal relationships and a talk can set your teenager on the path to recovery. Contact your local psychology program and ask how they can incorporate regular meetings into your child’s schedule. The journey may be long, but change starts with a single step forward.