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Cause Is Not Everything In Mental Illness For Child

Mental illness, as defined by the American Psychiatric Association, encompasses various “health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (or a combination of these).” There are a several different types of mental illness that affect the adolescent population in America. Research suggests that adolescence is period when dormant mental health ailments may begin to manifest, or when new mental health disorders develop. An article published in the International Journal of Mental Health Systems states “half of all mental disorders start by 14 years and are usually preceded by non-specific psychosocial disturbances potentially evolving in any major mental disorder and accounting for 45% of the global burden of disease across the 0–25 age span.” Data presented from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that an estimated 49.5% of adolescents aged 13-18 in America had AMI (any mental illness). Of the nearly fifty percent of adolescents with AMI, approximately 22.2% had severe impairment. 

Causes & Risk Factors

A report by the Surgeon General, entitled Risk Factors for Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders in Adolescents, illuminates the notion that mental health conditions can be shaped by a variety of contributing factors. Identified risk factors that may influence a child’s susceptibility to developing a mental health disorder include the following:

  • Biology: Studies have indicated that there is a genetic factor in relation to the development of mental illness. Therefore, because of one’s genes and DNA makeup some young people are predisposed to mental health disorders more than others. It has also been noted that one’s gender, ethnicity, and both personal and family history of the presence of other mental disorders can contribute to one’s susceptibility for developing a mental health illness. 
  • Brain chemistry: When neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry signals to other parts of the brain and body) are impaired and/ or are abnormal, the function of the nerve receptors and nerve systems in one’s brain are altered, which can result in the development of mental illness. Furthermore, deviations from typical serotonin (hormone that works to stabilize one’s mood, happiness, and feelings of well-being) production could increase one’s vulnerability to mental health problems. 
  • Hormones: The hormone shifts and subsequent hormone imbalances that adolescents experience could be involved in triggering or causing mental illness.
  • Environmental factors: Growing up in an unstable, neglectful, and/ or abusive environment could increase one’s risk for developing a mental health disorder. 

The more risk factors adolescents are exposed to, the greater the potential impact on their mental health. It is human nature to want to understand the exact reason behind why some children develop mental health ailments. However, it is often far more productive to, instead, focus on providing a child with the professional support needed to navigate a diagnosed mental health condition, and allocate energy to improving and refining adolescent treatment protocols.

Further Information and Support

For most of us, life can be very stressful, leading us to feel emotionally charged, which can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and getting stuck in a cycle of being burdened with negative thoughts. Navigating through the challenges and emotional turmoil of life can be overwhelming, but you do not have to go through it alone. Engage Treatment is a Joint Commission Accredited professional psychological practice. We specialize in treating children, teens, and young adults struggling with depression and anxiety through community-focused treatment plans that incorporate a carefully selected combination of therapeutic interventions. Our compassionate, multidisciplinary practitioners are devoted to providing the highest quality of care that helps ignite positive change and enables clients to reach optimal health and well-being. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We are happy to answer questions and provide you with any additional information. Feel free to call us at 805-497-0605 or email us at [email protected]. You are also welcomed to get in touch by filling out our contact form. We look forward to connecting and having the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to support you.

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