Teenagers face many different stressors during an average day. School, peer pressure, athletics, jobs and growing bodies can all be difficult to deal with. Due to some of these stressors, teenagers may develop some common mental and physical health issues. Some common health issues for teens include eating disorders, mood disorders, acne and substance abuse.
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The two most common eating disorders among teenagers are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Anorexia is a condition where a person purposefully starves herself in order to achieve and maintain an unhealthy body weight. Bulimia is a condition where a person engages in uncontrollable eating binges, usually in secret, then attempts to "purge" the food through laxatives, vomiting or starvation. Both of these eating disorders are common among teenagers, and both can be life-threatening if not treated by licensed health-care professionals.
Another health issue is the increased likelihood of developing mood disorders during adolescence. According to the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, "Clinicians and researchers believe that mood disorders in children and adolescents remain one of the most under-diagnosed mental-health problems. Mood disorders in adolescents also put them at risk for other conditions." Some common mood disorders in teenagers are depression and bipolar disorder. Depression is "a period of a depressed or irritable mood or a noticeable decrease in interest or pleasure in usual activities, along with other signs, lasting at least two weeks." Some symptoms of depression in teenagers include sleep disturbances, low self-esteem, thoughts of hopelessness and suicidal thoughts. Bipolar disorder is a condition of "manic episodes, usually interspersed with depressed periods." Mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder may require professional medical help for your teen to overcome.
One of the most common teen health issues is the appearance of acne on the face, back and neck. Acne, while not a serious health issue, is oftentimes embarrassing and seen as undesirable. According to the University of California, Davis, "It is estimated that 85 per cent of teens get acne, usually starting at age 11 for girls and a couple years later for boys. Acne can last throughout the teen years and into the early 20s." Acne occurs due to the heightened activity of hormonal glands in teenagers, usually during the normal progression of puberty. While there are many advocates of dietary treatments for acne, no special diet has been found helpful in controlling acne. However, there are many topical treatments that may be effective at reducing acne. For a list of possible treatments for your teen, consult a dermatologist.
According to research by the Children's Hospital of Boston, "A high proportion of 14- to-18-year-olds have diagnosable disorders related to the use of alcohol or drugs." Substance abuse is an overwhelming problem for educators and parents today, because it is so common among teenagers. Substance use in the teenage years is thought to be highly dangerous for brain growth and functioning. Some of the symptoms of drug or alcohol use are slow reactions, poor decision-making abilities, impaired coordination and slurred speech.
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- Net Wellnes: Eating Disorders Overview; Jane Korsberg & Leslie J. Heinberg; July 2010
- Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh: Overview of Mood Disorders; February 2008
- UC Davis Health System: Teen Acne; Philina Lamb, M.D.
- Children's Hospital Boston: Teen Alcohol and Drug Disorders More Common Than Previously Thought; June 2002