Symptoms of Mental Disorders...
Associated with Suicide Risk
Most adults are not trained to recognize signs of serious mental disorders in teens, and symptoms are therefore often misinterpreted or attributed to normal adolescent mood swings, laziness, poor attitude, or immaturity. Diagnosis of a mental disorder should always be made by a qualified mental health professional.
The key symptoms of major depressive disorder in teens are sad, depressed, angry, or irritable mood and lack of interest or pleasure in activities the teen used to enjoy, lasting at least two weeks. Symptoms represent a clear change from the person’s normal behavior and may include changes in appetite or sleep, feelings of worthlessness/guilt, inability to concentrate, slowed or agitated movement, recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, fatigue/loss of energy, and self-harm behavior.
Sometimes referred to as manic depression, bipolar disorder includes alternating episodes of depression and mania. Symptoms of mania last at least one week, cause clear social or academic problems, and include extreme distractibility, lack of need for sleep, unusually rapid speech or motor activity, excessive talking, and involvement in risky activities such as gambling or irresponsible sexual behavior.
The key characteristic of generalized anxiety disorder is excessive, uncontrolled worry (for example, persistent worry about tests or speaking in class) occurring on most days for a period of six months. Symptoms may include restlessness or feeling keyed up, irritability, being easily fatigued, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbances.
Teens with substance use disorder show a problematic pattern of drug or alcohol use over 12 months or more, leading to significant impairment or distress. Symptoms include taking larger amounts, over a longer period, than intended; continued use despite knowing that it is causing problems; increased irritability and anger; sleep disturbances; and family conflict over substance use.
Conduct disorder is a repetitive, persistent pattern in children or adolescents of violating the rights of others, rules, or social norms, occurring over 12 months. Symptoms include bullying or threatening others, physical fights, fire-setting, destroying property, breaking into houses/cars, physical cruelty to people or animals, lying, shoplifting, running away from home, and frequent truancy.
Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are eating disorders that are strongly linked to other mental disorders, especially depression and anxiety. Symptoms of anorexia nervosa include refusal to maintain body weight at a minimally normal level for age and height, intense fear of gaining weight, and a denial of low body weight. Symptoms of bulimia include repeated episodes of binge eating (at least twice a week for three months) combined with recurrent inappropriate behaviors to avoid gaining weight such as vomiting, misuse of laxatives, or excessive exercise.