Teenage years are often filled with changes and challenges. Teens are working to establish their identities, set a path for themselves, and figure out how they fit into the world around them. At the same time, their bodies and brains are going through changes that can result in chronic physical and mental health conditions. Mental health concerns can magnify the impact of these chronic conditions, just as chronic illness can contribute to mental health concerns. It’s important to understand chronic conditions vs. mental illness and how they can interact. Learn more about these issues to ensure your friends and family have the support they need to thrive.
Chronic Health Conditions
For teens, chronic health conditions are defined as any condition that lasts for more than three months and requires ongoing medical care. This can include conditions like diabetes, asthma, heart conditions, and chronic pain. Chronic health conditions can have a big impact on a teen’s life, as they can cause fatigue, missed school days, chronic pain, and difficulty participating in activities that they enjoy.
Mental Health Disorders
Mental health disorders are defined as any condition that impacts a person’s thinking, feeling, or mood. This can include conditions such as:
- Anxiety disorders – This common type of mental health disorder can cause a person to feel fearful, restless, and have difficulty concentrating.
- Depressive disorders – Characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness and low energy, depressive disorders can make it hard to enjoy activities that were once enjoyable.
- Eating disorders – Eating disorders involve disruptions in eating habits and can include severe weight loss or gain.
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder – This condition is characterized by difficulty paying attention, impulsive behavior, and hyperactivity.
- Bipolar disorder – Bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of high energy and mood (mania) followed by periods of low energy and mood (depression).
How Physical and Mental Health Interact
Chronic conditions vs. mental illness are different but often connected. Physical health concerns can cause or worsen mental health, and mental health concerns can cause or worsen physical symptoms. For example, teens with chronic pain may develop anxiety or depression in response to their chronic pain. Or, teens with anxiety may have physical symptoms like headaches or stomachaches. It’s essential to understand how chronic conditions and mental health concerns develop so your teen can receive the best possible care.
There are many different treatment options available for chronic conditions and mental illness. Treatment often involves a combination of medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Medication can be an important part of treatment, but it’s not the only option. Therapy can provide support and guidance to help your teen navigate life’s challenges, and lifestyle changes like diet and exercise can also help your teen manage their symptoms.
Find Help at Ascend
Ascend’s mission is to help teens step into a bright future. Our residential treatment centers in California provide quality care that includes clinical therapies, family involvement, and educational support so that the teens in our care can heal and thrive. Mental illness and chronic health conditions can be difficult to manage, but with the right help, your teen will build healthy coping skills and foundations for a successful future.
If you’re concerned about your teen, please reach out to us today at 310.388.3713 for help.