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Mental disorders that develop during adolescence

Mental disorders scare teens and alarm parents

Teenagers are notoriously moody, distracted and rebellious. Although many teenagers mature normally, there is a medium percent of teens in the early stages of mental illness. The accelerated change in brain chemistry can trigger genes and malfunctions that lead to mental disorders that develop during adolescence.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels. It can also make it hard to carry out day-to-day tasks, such as going to school or hanging out with friends. The symptoms of bipolar disorder can be severe. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in strained relationships, poor performance in school, and even lead to suicide. For those teens affected the symptoms of bipolar disorder often develop in the late teens or early adult years, however some teens experience their first symptoms during childhood. For a free information booklet, click here


Depressive illnesses are actually brain disorders. Brain-imaging technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), have shown that the brains of people who have depression look different than those of people without depression. The parts of the brain involved in mood, thinking, sleep, appetite, and behavior appear different. But these images do not reveal why the depression has occurred. (NIMH) Although the average age of onset is higher, a percentage of teens 13 to 18 year olds have experienced a seriously debilitating depressive disorder. For symptoms and treatment options, click here


Schizophrenia is a disabling brain disorder. People with the disorder may hear voices, or believe others are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. The difficulty of diagnosing schizophrenia in teens lies in the fact that the first signs can include a change of friends, a drop in grades, sleep problems, and irritability, and these can simply be normal teen behavior. However, when teens begin to isolate themselves and withdraw from others, exhibit an increase in unusual thoughts and suspicions, and have a family history of psychosis, it is time to see the doctor. For information on symptoms and treatments, click here

Generalized Conduct Disorder

Conduct disorder is a serious behavioral and emotional disorder that can occur in children and teens. Teenagers may regularly display disruptive and violent behavior and have problems following rules. While it is not uncommon for kids and teens to have bouts of behavior-related issues during their development, when the behavior is long lasting, parents should investigate conduct disorder. In addition, behavior is considered conduct disorder when this behavior violates others rights, consistently goes against social norms and disrupts the family’s everyday life. To learn more about conduct disorder, click here

Anxiety Disorder

A recent national survey of adolescent mental health reported that eight percent of teens ages 13–18 have some form of anxiety disorder. However, of these teens, only 18 percent received mental health care. Anxiety Disorder manifests in four forms: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social phobia (or social anxiety disorder). For detailed information on Anxiety Disorder, click here.

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