Adolescent Mental Health

Adolescents (12 – 19 years) face lot of changes in their life right from hormonal changes leading to development of secondary sexual characteristics, striving for independence from their caregivers, importance of socialising with friends and peers. They are known to face lot of problems but many parents are not aware of these. Even if they are aware they do not know how to handle them. This article aims to throw light on few of these issues and provide solution for them.

Major problems faced include:

  • Drug Addiction
  • Internet Addiction
  • Sexual problems
  • Depression and Suicide
  • Eating Disorders

Adolescent Mental Health Issues


  • Not to panic or criticise or threaten them or else he will lose faith in you.
  • Be friendly and be empathic, gain his confidence.
  • Get consultation with a psychiatrist who will help him.
  • There are medicines available for reducing craving & becoming free from substance dependence.
  • Root cause analysis to be done to know the ‘real’ reason

Lot of parents are facing the problem of their child spending time on internet. Time is spent on various social networking sites like facebook, chatrooms, twitter, etc. Many of them addicted to pornography sites. Many of them addicted to online gaming leading to a shunning of public contact. Neglecting studies & other social activities like attending weddings and family functions, not going for playing. Any attempts to avoid him to use internet will make child irritable.

Child should be encouraged to spend time in other activities like outdoor games. Parents should also spend time with him and should encourage him to express all his problems.

  • Also time management should be done with regards to studies and time spent on internet.
  • ¨ Medicines are also helpful to control aggression and other problems like sleep disturbances and depression which are common with internet addiction.
  • Also keeping computer in main hall reduces chances of porn watching.
  • Keep tab on what your child is surfing. Options are available to block few sites.

Depression and Suicide

Depression is very much prevalent among adolescents. But they may not complain of sadness of mood, decreased interest or ideas of hopelessness. They might present as difficulty in their studies, avoiding going to school, remaining withdrawn, not interacting as before. Sleep and appetite changes. Getting irritable or frequent mood swings. Multiple somatic complaints like headache, bodyache, joint pains, etc.Suicidal ideations are prevalent in adolescents. They might express in varied ways like asking parents what they would do without him, how can I go to GOD’s house, what would happen if I jump from terrace, etc. They might even write a suicide note and keep. Some might get dreams of self harm or other fearful dreams.


  • Not to neglect any suicidal talk or ideas given by the child.
  • Early identification of depression will help in treating.
  • Consult psychiatrist for evaluation and management.
  • Both medicines and counselling helps.

Eating Disorders

It is less compared to western countries in our society. In this there are 2 main disorders: Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. More common in females than males. In Anorexia Nervosa, the patient has body image disturbances. She has intense fear of becoming obese even though she is thin and underweight. She will eat too less or avoid eating with others. If she eats, will have compensatory mechanisms in form of vomiting, use of laxatives, severe exercising. Difference with bulimia nervosa is that in bulimia patient’s weight is maintained.



  • Treatment is both pharmacological and psychotherapy.
  • In extreme cases admission to hospital is required for forceful feeding.

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