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The 8 most common mental disorders in adolescence

The 8 most common mental disorders in adolescence

June 8, 2022

Mental problems do not occur only in adulthood, but approximately 1 out of 5 children and adolescents suffer from a psychological disorder . In fact many of the most common disorders, such as mood and anxiety, often develop or begin to manifest during adolescence and youth.

  • Related article: "The 16 most common mental disorders"

Common psychological disorders in adolescence

In this article we will describe 8 of the most common mental health problems in adolescence . All of them are caused to a greater or lesser extent by an interaction between the biological predisposition and the effects of the environment, and their symptoms tend to resemble those of adults the older the adolescent is.


1. Major depression and dysthymia

According to the DSM-IV, major depressive disorder is characterized by the presence of a pathologically low mood and difficulty in obtaining pleasure through the performance of rewarding activities (anhedonia). Dysthymia is a depressive disorder whose symptoms have a lower intensity but which remain chronic for at least 2 years.

Depressive disorders are twice as common in women as in men and begin more frequently in the third and fourth decades of life, although they can appear at any age. The experience of traumatic experiences and learning deogenous beliefs during childhood they are relevant factors in its development.


  • Related article: "Are there several types of depression?"

2. Generalized anxiety disorder

People with generalized anxiety disorder worry excessively and systematically because of their negative, often irrational, expectations. This causes associated physical and cognitive symptoms to appear as insomnia, irritability, stomach pain, sweating and muscle tension .

Like depression, generalized anxiety disorder is twice as common in women. It is very common that people with this problem are also diagnosed with other anxiety and mood disorders, especially dysthymia.

  • You may be interested: "Generalized Anxiety Disorder: symptoms, causes and treatment"

3. Substance abuse and dependence

The consumption of psychoactive substances, such as alcohol, cannabis or cocaine, commonly begins during adolescence. Although many adolescents make a punctual consumption or leave it after a while, in other cases they can develop disorders due to abuse or dependence of these substances with a high risk of chronification.


4. Dissocial and defiant negativist disorders

Dyssocial disorder is a variant of early onset and less severe antisocial personality disorder. The criteria for dissocial disorder include the use of physical and verbal violence against people or other animals, theft, the destruction of other people's property or serious violations of parental and academic school rules.

An associated problem is the defiant negativist disorder, which is diagnosed in children and adolescents who disobey adults, have a marked tendency to anger and accuse other people of their bad behavior. The diagnostic criteria for these behavior disorders have been criticized for including value judgments of an ethical nature.

5. Anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder

Anorexia and bulimia nervosa are frequently associated with adolescence and youth, although they can appear at any time of life. Psychosocial factors are currently contributing to a advance of the average age of onset of these eating disorders in a good part of the world.

Binge eating disorder is an alteration that is included in the same category and has recently been included in the DSM-5. It is characterized by the presence of episodes of compulsive eating similar to those that occur in bulimia, although it is associated with obesity due to the absence of compensatory behaviors such as the induction of vomiting.

  • Related article: "The 10 most common eating disorders"

6. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

The controversial attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is usually diagnosed in childhood. In more than half of the cases the symptoms remit in the adolescence and the youth, but in the rest they remain during the adult life. ADHD implies an increase in the likelihood of developing addictions, depression or anxiety disorders .

Since the popularization of the diagnosis of ADHD is relatively recent, it is common to find similar alterations in adults diagnosed with impulse control disorders, as well as other psychological problems related to impulsiveness and psychophysiological agitation.

7. Social phobia

People with social anxiety disorder, better known as social phobia, feel great discomfort in situations that involve interaction with other people . This can cause physical and cognitive symptoms typical of panic attacks, such as tachycardia and breathing difficulties. In many cases it is due to rejection or bullying.

8. Adaptive and stress disorders

Adaptive disorders are diagnosed when the person presents anxious or depressive symptoms of moderate intensity as a consequence of significant life events. These problems are more common in young people, including adolescents, since they tend to have less effective strategies to cope with stress.

Something similar happens with acute stress disorder and with post-traumatic stress disorder. While the first label is used when the symptoms caused by a traumatic event last less than a month, post-traumatic stress disorder is a more serious and lasting variant that carries a high risk of suicide.


How to Recognize Signs of Mental Illness in Children (June 2022).


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