On the one hand a diagnosis is a label. It’s in some ways a category that the mental health field places your teen in. However, there are also many important benefits to having a mental health diagnosis for your teen. This article will discuss those benefits. If you feel your teen is in need of an evaluation, have them assessed as soon as possible. As you will read, having a diagnosis will open many doors for your teen’s psychological health.
If you’d like to have a diagnosis for your teen, the best thing you can do is to schedule a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation from a board certified psychiatrist. As you move through this process, be patient. Getting an accurate mental health diagnosis is an evolution of sorting through information that changes as your teenager continues to develop. For instance, your teen’s mental health provider might have an idea of your teen’s diagnosis but may need more time to gather information. However, in most cases, mental health providers can provide you with a diagnosis within a week, depending upon the circumstances.
Benefits of a Mental Health Diagnosis
Once you have a mental health diagnosis, here are some important benefits to knowing what your teen is struggling with:
Communication: When your teen’s therapist, for instance, communicates with your teen’s psychiatrist and refers to your teen as a Bipolar patient, that psychiatrist will automatically be able to interpret your teen’s general psychological condition. Although each person is unique in how they experience mental illness, a diagnosis provides a convenient way to refer to your teen’s condition and how to treat it. It allows clinicians to quickly recognize the illness someone may be struggling with.
Understanding: In the same vein, a diagnosis immediately allows those that are involved in treating your teen’s mental illness an understanding of the symptoms your teen might be experiencing. It can immediately give them a general idea of how to help and what your teen might need.
Treatment: A diagnosis provides a clear piece of information about your teen’s well being. Just like when you receive a medical diagnosis, you can then move forward with knowing how to treat and what preventative measures to take. In fact, discovering the right diagnosis is essential. Everything else – medication, therapy, interventions, and treatment in general – depends on it. Getting the right diagnosis sets the foundation for the future. That is, it will determine how you will respond to your teen, care for them, and most importantly, acquire the most effective treatment, which may include medication, therapy, and other therapeutic interventions.
Support: Many teens and their families feel supported by having a diagnosis. For instance, if your teen had been experiencing symptoms and you’ve been confused or couldn’t quite understand what your teen was going through, having a diagnosis will help explain things. Furthermore, you and your family may feel as though you are not alone. And most importantly, with a diagnosis, a teen can then search for support groups to attend that include other teens with the same issue. Although a diagnosis can feel like a label, it can also be the very thing that connects your teen to resources and supportive people.
At the same time, although a diagnosis can provide these benefits, there is one danger with having a mental health diagnosis and that is identifying with it too much. When a parent is encouraging a teen to go out, a depressed teen might say in response, “I’m depressed remember; I don’t want to go out with my friends.” It’s important to remember that just because a person has a diagnosis doesn’t mean that they can’t work towards changing it.
After a Teen Has Been Diagnosed
Along these lines, when a teen has a diagnosis, it’s important to consider the ways the illness is affecting them uniquely. It’s easy to identify with an illness and start to take on traits of the illness that perhaps weren’t there in the first place – just because you’ve been given that label.
To help your teen work through an illness, consider getting them a therapist to discuss their worries, fears, and concerns. You may want to find a therapist that specializes in mood disorders, particularly in adolescence. Traditionally, the field of psychology saw major mood disorders occurring in adults only. However, today, those disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder, are seen in adolescents. If your teen isn’t experiencing a mood disorder, you might be able to find a therapist that specializes in a particular mental illness or condition.
Your teen doesn’t have to be labeled with a mental health diagnosis. It’s possible for your teen and the rest of your family to experience the benefits of knowing the mental illness your teen is being affected by.