Teenage Mental Health

Skyler, Kiana, Erin


What is Anxiety:

- Anxiety is the sense of fear and apprehension that puts a person alert.

What Happens in the Body:

- In the body anxiety triggers your fight or flight response, when triggered it is flooded with norephinephine and cortisol. Both are designed to give a boost in perception, reflexes, and speed in dangerous situations. These triggers increase the heart rate, get more blood flow to your muscles, and air to the lungs. In general these symptoms get your body ready to deal with whatever threat is present.

How it Affects the Brain:

- In the brain anxiety affects the amygdala and the hippocampus. Our emotional memories are stored in the central part of the amygdala. This affects our very distinct fears. This can vary from dogs, school, flying etc. The hippocampus is the part in the brain that encodes life's threatening events into memories. Researchers have shown that the hippocampus can appear smaller in brains of victims that were associated with child abuse or those who served in the military.

Signs and Symptoms:

- strong or upsetting physical sensations

- feelings of doom or fear that happen for no apparent reason

- scared or unprotected feelings

- constantly worrying

- overwhelmed

- can affect a teens concentration in school

- lower confidence

- less sleep

- smaller or larger appetite

- worrisome outlook


- mental health professionals

- therapists

- cognitive-behavior therapy

- exercise, nutrition,sleep

- medication

- support

Differences in Teens:

- Anxiety affects teenagers more than adults due to the teens having a lot of stress put on them with school, college, parents and much more.


Anxiety Disorders in Teens

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

What is OCD:

- OCD consists of two parts: the obsession part and compulsion part. Obsessions are persistent, intrusive, and unwanted thoughts, images, or impulses or urges. Compulsions are repeated behaviors that a person does in order to decrease the anxiety caused by the obsession

How it Affects a Teen:

- OCD makes a persons obsessions irrational, senseless, or inappropriate, but the person is not able to control them. This can cause very high degrees of anxiety. OCD can also make a person want to do something over and over again such as washing, touching, counting, or checking something repeatedly.

How It Affects the Brain:

-Their are two possible theories that happen to the the brain in people with OCD. One of the theories is that in the brain their are problems with certain neurotransmitters. It is caused by a chemical imbalance of the neurotransmitter serotonin, this can throw of the sequence of communication in the brain. Another theory is there is a tight, hyperactive linkage among the orbital cortex, the caudate nucleus, the cingulate gyrus, and the thalamus causes a "brain lock" situation, leading to repetitive and intrusive thoughts.

Signs And Symptoms:

- Obsessions

- Compulsions

- Obsessions and Compulsions

- Time consuming events take up almost all their day

- They have continuous thoughts they do not want

- Repeating having to do the same activity over and over

Differences in Teens and Adults:

- OCD is different for everyone. People can have really bad OCD or they can have mild OCD. It just depends on the person.


- Different medications (usually put together when you go to your doctor)

- Psychotherapy

- Support from friends and family

- Maintaining a regular daily routine

- Arousal Decreasing Techniques


How to Help Your Teen Overcome Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


  • A common but serious disorder.

  • It causes symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating and working.

  • Depression is one of the most common disorders in the U.S. Current research suggests that depression is caused by combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Sadness and Hopelessness

  • Irritability, anger, or Hostility

  • Tearfulness or frequent crying

  • Withdrawal from friends and family

  • Loss of interest in activities

  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits

-To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.

Age Range:

  • Depression can happen at any age, but often begins in adulthood.

  • Depression is now recognized as occurring in children and adolescents.


  • Depression, even the most severe cases, can be treated.

  • The earlier that the treatment can begin, the more effective it is.


  • Depression is usually treated with medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.

  • If these treatments do not reduce symptoms, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and other brain stimulation therapies may be options to explore.

  • Antidepressants are medicines that treat depression.

  • They may help improve the way your brain uses certain chemicals that control mood or stress.

  • Antidepressants take time- usually 2 to 4 weeks- to work, and often, symptoms such as sleep, appetite and concentration problems improve before mood lifts, so it is important to give medication a chance before reaching a conclusion about its effectiveness.

Adults vs Adolescents:

  • Adults will isolate themselves more than teens will.

  • Teens will still withdraw to a degree, but will often continue to associate with their close friends.

  • Teens will find more time to sleep than adults with depression do.

  • Adults with depression are more prone to experience insomnia.

  • Depressed adolescents will generally express their feelings and emotion through anger and irritability, while adults with depression are often more sad and withdrawn.

Parts of the Brain:

  • Researchers tend to look at several aspects of brain function:

    • Structures of the Limbic System

    • The function of neurotransmitters within neurons



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The Science of Depression


What is ADHD?

ADHD is short for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This is a brain disorder determined by a continuing pattern of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.

Signs and Symptoms: There are three different parts to ADHD


  • Overlook, misses or ignores details in work
  • Have problems keeping attention on task at hand; including conversations and lectures
  • Has problems following instructions and fails to finish schoolwork; or starts a task but gets easily sidetracked
  • Has problems organizing activities and tasks
  • Lose things for activities; such as homework, pencils, glasses and phones
  • Easily distracted by unrelated thoughts
  • Forgetful in daily activities like chores or errands

-Hyperactivity & Impulsivity

  • Fidget and squirm in seat
  • Leave seat when staying in seat is expected
  • Children often run or dash around in situations where it is inappropriate to do so, in teens and adults, they feel restless
  • Unable to engage in hobbies quietly
  • Constantly in motion or "driven by motor"
  • Talk nonstop
  • Blurt out or answer before question is completed, finish other peoples sentences, or speak without waiting there turn
  • Interrupt or intrude on others

Risk Factors - Scientists are not for sure what causes ADHD, but they have a few ideas

  • Genes
  • Smoking, consuming alcohol, or using drugs during pregnancy
  • Exposure to toxins during pregnancy or at a young age
  • Low birth weight
  • Brain injuries

Who gets ADHD?

  • 3-5% of American children
  • Typically diagnosed in children, but adults can also be diagnosed
  • More common in males than females

Treatment and Therapies

There's no cure for ADHD yet, but there are different treatments that can reduce the symptoms such as:

  • Medication

-reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity and improve their ability to focus, work, and learn

-medication can also improve physical coordination

  • Psychotherapy

-Behavioral therapy helps a person change his or her behavior

  • Education or training

-Parenting skills training - teaches parents skills needed to encourage and reward their children for good behavior

-Stress management techniques can help parents by increasing their abilities to deal with frustration so they can respond calmly to their children's behavior

  • Combination of treatments

How does it affect the brain?

  • Although brain development is the same, children with ADHD have smaller brains by 3%
  • Frontal lobes, which control impulse control, concentration and motor activity, are found smaller in more severe cases of ADHD
  • Researchers look at differences in grey matter (outer layer of brain) and white matter(nerve fibers). They have found that children with and without ADHD have differences in neural pathways in areas of the brain involved in impulsive behavior, attention, inhibition and motor activity