Children and Teenagers
Adolescents need a space to be heard.
Developing minds can be susceptible to a number of stressors. Learning how to cope with emotions and improving their relational dynamics are crucial elements to healthy development, growth, and connection.
Psychotherapy for Children and Teens
Preserving the Mental Health of our Children and Teenagers
Mental health is a public health concern around the globe, and it affects people of all ages. We need to take special care when dealing with the mental health of children and teenagers because those are their formative years where their brain is developing and they are transitioning into adulthood. To get a better idea of just how prevalent mental health concerns are in adolescents around the world, let’s look at some startling statistics.
Prevalence of Mental Health Issues affecting children and adolescents in the U.S.:
About 1.9 million American children aged 3-17 have received a Depression diagnosis.
About 4.4 million children aged 3-17 years old have received an anxiety diagnosis
About 6.1 million children aged 3-17 have received an ADHD diagnosis
About 4.5 million aged 3-17 children have received a behavioral problem diagnosis.
Between 40% to 70% of children in North America deal with mental health repercussions that come with the process of their parents separating or divorcing.
Let’s not forget about all of the other children who suffer from mental health conditions but go without a diagnosis.
Mental health in children and teenagers is nothing to take lightly. We have outlined some of the most serious mental health conditions that adolescents face in today’s world.
Common Diagnosis found with Children.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD is a very common neurodevelopmental disorder that originates in childhood and often lasts into your adult years. Kids who have ADHD might exhibit signs that include impulsive behaviors, difficulty paying attention and being overly active. Children who have ADHD will often daydream a lot, lose things frequently, have difficulty sitting still, or fidget a lot. They might also exhibit communication problems such as not waiting their turn to speak or ignoring what is going on around them because they are dozed off or not focused. They can make careless mistakes that have nothing to do with a lack of intelligence or laziness. It has more to do with their difficulty with focusing, becoming distracted, or trouble following through with a plan. ADHD can show up in children's and teenagers’ lives in various aspects including their peer relationships, academic life, and emotional functioning.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD):
OCD is a mental health disorder in which the individual repeatedly has negative, disturbing, or unproductive thoughts (referred to as obsessions). In order to alleviate the anxiety from these obsessions, they engage in behaviors (compulsions) that they believe will help their negative thoughts. However, their thoughts are often irrational and their behaviors are often very unproductive. Unlike other people, their brain is stuck in a loop and they are not able to find relief from their behavior after they “make sure” to do it. OCD symptoms can manifest in a child or teenager’s life in various ways. OCD-related behaviors include excessive checking (and rechecking) to make sure that an appliance is turned off, arranging things until it looks just right, frequently confessing or apologizing, or saying a “lucky word”. Compulsions can also be purely mental. A child might continue to repeat a prayer in their head over and over again because they worry they did not say it correctly. Oftentimes, individuals with OCD have recognized their behaviors are irrational and excessive. They even realize others think they are being irrational because they are repeating a certain phrase or “prayer” to themselves until it sounds “just right”. Neither of these realizations are enough to make the person stop their patterns. OCD’s brain chemistry is so powerful that it beats their rational realizations. That is why treatment for OCD is specialized and often takes a great deal of effort from the individual going through it.
Major Depression in children and teens is a mood disorder characterized by chronic feelings of sadness, low energy, loss of interest in activities the child once enjoyed, sleeping too much or not enough, weight gain/loss, or isolation. Mental health experts used to believe that only adults get depression. However, advances in research have shown that children and teens also suffer from depression. Children and teenagers battle Depression for many of the same reasons that adults do including environmental, social, and, and genetic factors. However, depression in children and teens can manifest itself differently than it would in adults. The symptoms of depression differ significantly from child to child, but a key indicator to look for is a change in their mood or behavior. Some children will have physical complaints, sleep disturbances, or appear anxious. Older teens with depression can exhibit mood swings. Depression can exhibit in a child or teenager’s life by negatively impacting their academic or social functioning.
Managing through Parental Separation or Divorce
Along with dealing with some of the common mental health conditions that adults and children both suffer from, there are certain mental and emotional health concerns unique to only children or teenagers such as dealing with divorce or separation of parents.
Divorce or separation of parents can have significant, negative impacts on the child’s mental health if the issue is ignored. Parental separation should not be viewed as a single event, but more as a process. During a divorce, the two primary caretakers of the child’s life can become preoccupied with their personal anguish and mental health. This can get in their way to provide properly nurture and parent their child for a temporary period. Divorce can also lead to financial burdens for the family only adding to the stress of both the parent and the child. Significant factors that influence just how much of a mental impact the separation/divorce will have on the child include parental stability, the child’s resiliency, temperament, social supports, and the child’s age. Earlier studies suggested that children who experience divorce at home are more likely to get into trouble with the law, drop out of school, abuse drugs, and experience emotional distress. However, recent studies show that only a slightly higher percentage of kids who are mentally well live in intact family units.
It is crucial to diagnose and treat these mental health conditions so they don’t cause even bigger problems during adulthood.
The great news is that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Throughout the years, experts have found various successful methods to diagnose and treat the mental health concerns discussed above. Cognitive Behavior Therapy is one of the most widely used therapeutic methods that has proven to be successful in treating mental health conditions such as OCD, Anxiety, Depression, and more. In the case of children and teenagers, early detection and diagnosis hold a unique value because their brains are still forming. While adults can make some great change using therapy as well, most underlying mental health illnesses start during childhood. By diagnosing the child at an early age, we are able to help them and prevent their suffering for many more years of their life.
There have been some remarkable discoveries in how to address the emotional and behavioral aspects related to mental health conditions. However, not every therapeutic method is suited for every child or teenager.
Work with Us:
If you are worried about the mental health condition of your precious child and need a professional’s opinion on if therapy is the right option for them, contact us today to set up an appointment with one of therapist. Not all therapist work with children and or teenagers, please call us 305-605-LOVE so that we can better understand your concerns and identify the right therapist for your child.
Individuals who are facing personal or professional transitions should consider the support of one of our therapists whose primary job is to help people make sound decisions. We are trained to help facilitate change and explore the emotional foundation, the cognitive components, and the behavioral aspects which may be playing a part into a decision making process or that are emerging as a result of a decision already made.