Untreated Teen Mental Illness Brings Greater Risks

There are a number of adolescents who experience mental health symptoms and who likely have a diagnosis. However, they are not getting the treatment they need. The common forms of teen mental illness, such as Bipolar Disorder and Depression, can lead to suicide or other forms of harm if they go untreated.


In fact, a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in May of 2015 revealed a substantial increase in the number of adolescents who accessed mental health services, indicating that services are highly needed among teens. However, the study also revealed a high number of severely impaired teens who are not getting their mental health needs met.


According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately, 8% of teens meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression. One in five teens have experienced depression at some point in their teenage years. However, when teens are depressed and it goes untreated there are serious side dangers, the greatest of which is suicide. Teens who are depressed are at a high risk to develop other serious problems as well in an effort to manage the emotional pain they are feeling. The following are behaviors that teens might begin to engage in as a way to cope with depression and its symptoms.

Drug Use – Often, drugs are way for teens to escape, which might be the best coping mechanism they have. Drugs provide a high and can make life feel different than the depressive symptoms you’re used to feeling.


Poor School Performance – Untreated mental illness can affect a teen’s ability to concentrate. Without the ability to focus and without feeling good about yourself, performing well academically can become challenge.


Social Issues – Mental illness also comes with feelings of worthlessness and poor self esteem. These can create dysfunctional and risky relationships, vulnerability to fall under peer pressure, and social withdrawal.


Poor Athletic Performance – The symptoms of low energy, irritability, poor concentration, and lack of confidence, common with depression and bipolar disorder, can lead to poor sports performance. As this declines, this might only facilitate a teen’s downward emotional spiral.


Reckless Behavior – Teens who are not emotionally stable, such as with bipolar disorder, might engage in risky behavior providing them with a means for feeling different and escaping their internal experience. However, having unprotected sex and engaging in illegal activities can affect a teen’s life long-term.


In addition to depression and bipolar disorder, teen ADHD is another diagnosis that can frequently go untreated. It’s common for parents to deem teens with this illness as having behavioral or emotional problems. With this, teens are in danger of experiencing similar risks, particularly poor school performance, social issues, and impairments to the parent-teen relationships.


If your teen is experiencing mental health symptoms, it’s essential to take him or her to a mental health professional. There, your adolescent will likely receive a diagnosis, if he or she has one, and then initiating the appropriate treatment plan will follow. Having the right teen mental illness diagnosis and treatment plan can ensure your teen’s safety and well being.