Understanding Mental Health Conditions

Understanding Mental Health Conditions

Unlike medical conditions like asthma and diabetes, mental illnesses are difficult to diagnose. This is because every condition comes with its own set of symptoms, and every person is affected by their symptoms differently. Often, different conditions present similarly even though they function differently within other diagnoses. It can be difficult, but seeking help is the best path forward.

In young people especially, mental health conditions are disruptive and affect critical years of development. About 1 in 6 U.S. children 2-8 years old have a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder from 2016-2019. In 2018-2019, research showed 36.7% of adolescents 12-17 years old experienced persistent sadness or hopelessness.

The teen mental health statistics show another concerning pattern. 18.8% of adolescents seriously considered attempting suicide, 15.7% made a suicide plan, and 8.9% attempted suicide. If you suspect you or a loved one is struggling with symptoms of a mental health disorder, it cannot be overstated that early intervention is crucial. Continue reading to learn about some of the most common mental health issues.

Attention Deficit-Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a developmental disorder marked by its impact on behavior. ADHD in kids shows up in several ways:

  • Excessive moving or fidgeting
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Interrupting others

Symptoms of ADHD all mimic the everyday struggles of young children, but in this context will be much more noticeable and have a more impact on the child’s daily life. It’s also important to note that ADHD symptoms in women are more difficult to notice. Unfortunately, there is no cure for ADHD, but early intervention and ADHD treatment options available help manage symptoms.

If you suspect you might have ADHD and want to do a preliminary check at home that is more low stakes, you can find an ADHD test online before you spend the money on a doctor’s visit.

Anxiety Disorder

Many people experience anxiety, but not everyone has an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is characterized by frequent, intense feelings of worry, often for weeks or months at a time. Also, symptoms of anxiety in teens are frequently confused with puberty. Different forms of anxiety affect people differently and can be triggered by specific attributes. 

For example:

Social Phobia is an anxiety disorder triggered by the fear of being judged. This disorder interferes with every situation that involves people and can cause weeks of stress leading up to an event. Social phobia can cause the affected person to sweat, shake, or blush.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) doesn’t have a specific trigger and is characterized by worrying about many things. GAD can cause the affected person to struggle with concentration, have trouble sleeping, and more. Stressors range from finances to relationships, and the effects can be debilitating. 

Panic Disorder is another form of anxiety that doesn’t have a specific trigger. The primary symptoms of panic disorder are sudden panic attacks, often without clear attribution. Panic attacks associated with panic disorder are scary, dizzying and make people feel like they will die.  

Agoraphobia is a form of anxiety triggered by the fear of being anywhere you may not be able to escape should danger arise. This makes leaving home, being in a vehicle, and immersion in large crowds more difficult.

A traumatic experience triggers Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some examples of traumatic experiences are witnessing/surviving an attack, surviving a traumatic weather event (like a hurricane or flood), abuse, and more. In addition, people who struggle with PTSD often have nightmares where they feel like they’re reliving the experience.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a disorder that affects the nervous system and development process. The phrase “being on the spectrum” comes from the various symptoms and severity that people with ASD experience. Symptoms for autism typically start to develop in the first two years of life and affect people differently. Autism produces different strengths and weaknesses, and it is possible to lead a fulfilling life regardless of where you exist on the spectrum.

Depression differs for everyone but Manic Depressive Disorder is characterized by extended, intense periods of sadness, disinterest, irritability, and withdrawal from once-enjoyable activities. Symptoms of depression can be debilitating, and there are effective treatments to help find relief available. 

Formerly known as “manic-depressive illness” or “manic depression,” Bipolar Disorder causes abrupt changes in mood and energy, making it difficult to function in daily life. The two moods typically associated with bipolar disorder are described as “manic” (or up) and “depressive” (or down).  

When you’re manic, you may feel euphoric, energized, and irritable. Conversely, when you’re “down,” you may feel sad, indifferent, and depressed. Bipolar Disorder in Teens: Learn more about the difference between major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a psychiatric condition where obsessive thoughts lead to compulsive behavior. Obsessive thoughts are typically stressful and repetitive, and the compulsions can occur as often as necessary for the person to feel relief.

Common compulsions include nail biting, lip biting, nose picking, hair pulling, hoarding, and cleaning. Common obsessions include symmetry, organization, and avoiding contamination.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is hugely disruptive, especially if left untreated. If you struggle with these thoughts and behaviors, speak to a mental health professional to get treatment for OCD.

Psychosis is an all-encompassing term for mental conditions that involve disconnection from reality. These psychotic episodes can include delusions, hallucinations, and sometimes incoherence. Other symptoms of a psychotic episode include trouble sleeping, increased anxiety, withdrawal from groups and activities, and decreased functionality.

If you feel like you display any of the described signs of psychosis, seek help from a mental health professional as soon as possible.

Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that disrupts the ability to interpret reality normally. While uncommon in children, Schizophrenia does affect in the same way it affects adults with some additions. Along with cognitive, behavioral, and emotional issues, the early age that childhood Schizophrenia begins at presents developmental issues. 

Childhood Schizophrenia is more challenging to diagnose than Schizophrenia in adults, and early medical intervention significantly impacts development. Schizophrenia is a chronic condition that requires lifelong treatment to manage symptoms.

  • Loss of a loved one
  • Severe illness or death
  • The stigma associated with certain illnesses
  • Obstacles in accessing necessary care
  • Lack of or insufficient health insurance
  • Lack of racial and ethnic diversity among healthcare providers
  • Lack of culturally competent healthcare
  • First-hand experience of racial discrimination
  • Witnessing or hearing about bias or prejudice from others in the media
  • Racial trauma

The YMCA Provides Mental Health Resources for Diverse Communities

The Y is committed to providing mental health resources and information that considers all our communities’ unique identities and stressors. Below are some available resources that can provide culturally competent and in-language support for Black, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, immigrant, and LGBTQ+ youth.

Culturally Competent Mental Health Resources

Finding a culturally competent provider is the first step for young people with marginalized identities. In addition, a culturally competent provider can provide more significant support related to your cultural background.