New Study Shows Higher Incidence of Mental Illness in Teens

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Glee_hand_logoSecret Life of the American Teenager. Degrassi. Glee. Pretty Little Liars. Aside from being television shows with a heavy focus on teen issues, one big common denominator is that all of these programs paint a picture of teenage life that matches the stressful, dramatic, and angst-filled images of teens that has come to be the normal expectation of kids everywhere. But there’s a line between “normal” teen angst and diagnosable mental illness. A new study by the Harvard Medical School finds that many teens are on the “mental illness” side of that line.

According to the study, based on a household survey of 10,148 teenagers in the U.S., two thirds of those surveyed had a history of anger attacks involving “real or threatened violence.” The study concluded that one in twelve teenagers surveyed met the criteria for a diagnosis of intermittent explosive disorder, or IED, which is characterized by “persistent and uncontrollable anger attacks.”

The results of the study also indicated that the teens with IED were not receiving proper treatment. Although 37.8% of the teens with the disorder were obtaining treatment for their mental or emotional problems only 6.5% were specifically being helped with their anger management.

Mental illness can have a huge impact on the life of a child or teenager, and it’s important for parents, guardians, teachers, and caregivers to be on the lookout for emotional and physical changes that could indicate mental distress. Check out this great list of 10 Signs Your Teenager is Depressed, written by Frank Medlar, a friend of Families for Depression Awareness. As always, the resources for teens on our website: books, brochures, videos, webinars, and external links to mental health professionals, support groups, and hotlines.


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