Understanding and Responding to the Adolescent Emotional Psyche

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The adolescence is a critical stage of social, psychological, and biological development between childhood and young adulthood. With increases in hormones, as well as environmental transitions between elementary, junior high and senior high school, this period of life is an emotional time for young people. While mood swings can seem like a natural part of this process, it’s important to be aware of the deeper issues teenagers may be struggling with.

School Avoidance

As a result of struggling with psychiatric disorders or other environmental stressors, adolescents may resist going to school or taking part in academic or other school activities. School refusal may occur gradually or after a prolonged absence for health reasons or holiday observances. It may occur due to conflicts with peers or stressful events that have occurred within the home or academic setting. Teens may respond by throwing fits, crying, experiencing panic attacks, or even threatening to harm themselves. While reasons for refusal may be understandable at times anxiety must be addressed appropriately, otherwise the adolescent may become more distant from their friends and fall behind in school.

Depression

depression in teensTeen depression is an emotional state internalized by adolescents, as opposed to other disruptive or problematic external behaviors. Depression causes unhealthy mood swings, anxiety, isolationist tendencies, self-harm, and an overall lack of emotional stability. Teens with unstable emotions may lose interest in their hobbies or academic pursuits. Emotional instability can also cause loss of appetite or unusual or prolonged sleeping habits.

One in eight adolescents struggles with some form of depression. If they harbor ideas about feeling unworthy, inadequate, or hopeless, their depression may lead to self-harm or suicidal ideation.

Self-Harm

Self-harm is an emotional release used by teens who see hurting themselves as the only effective way to cope with emotional pain, isolation, and stress. Usually the cutting or burning of skin, self-harm can also include more extreme forms such as taking poison or preventing wounds from healing. However, the psychological relief that occurs is only temporary. These actions can become addictive if alternative coping mechanisms are not provided.

According to the Child Mind Institute, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 15 and 24. While self-harm does not always lead to suicide, those who rely on self-harm for relief are at a higher risk of having suicidal thoughts and attempting suicide.

Solutions

A significant contributing factor to adolescent emotional struggles is feeling isolated, especially among peers. It’s important to get help for your teen so they have someone to talk to, be that a parent, teacher, or counselor. They need to know they are not alone and that whoever they confide in will not judge them for their feelings or actions.

While it’s natural for teenagers to go through emotional highs and lows as they develop, if you believe they are struggling with depression or self-harm or are showing antisocial behavior, consider getting help.

High Focus Centers has a range of individualized programs to support young people who are struggling during this critical point in their lives. Don’t wait while your teen suffers. Take action now and bring relief to a teen in need.