How Does Adolescence Affect Mental Health? Breaking The Silence


Adolescence is a crucial period for developing social and emotional habits that are important for mental well-being.

Many physical and mental changes take place during this time and it’s not a smooth ride. This transitional change of physical and psychological development occurs between ages 13 and 19. 

The most common mental health disorders that occur during adolescence are anxiety, mood, attention & behavior disorders.

Failing to address these mental health concerns in adolescence might extend to adulthood, impairing both physical and mental health. 

What Is Adolescence?

Adolescence is the transitional period from ages 10 to 19. Children entering adolescence may experience physical and psychological development, and reproductive maturity during this period.

Mental Health And Adolescence 

During this period, adolescents cultivate their choices to explore academics, friendship, sexuality, gender identity, drugs, and alcohol.

The different stages of adolescence include early adolescence which starts from the age of 10 to 13. During early adolescence, a growth spurt occurs physically and induces the development of secondary sexual characteristics.

Middle adolescence starts from 14 to 17 years and in this period, puberty changes for both males and females continue. The years between 18 and 21—sometimes called “late adolescence“—are marked by a shift from physical to mental maturation.

Cognitive Changes Of Adolescence

Adolescence is a time for rapid cognitive development. Biological changes in brain structure interact with increased experience, knowledge, and changing social demands to produce rapid cognitive growth.

These changes usually occur during the beginning stages of puberty. This is because, during adolescence, the number of neurons grows rapidly. 

Mental Characteristics That Develop During Adolescence

During the adolescence period, the changes in the brain interact with logical reasoning, knowledge, and social demands to stimulate cognitive growth. These mental changes have more impact on children than physical changes. 

During adolescence, major qualitative changes may appear such as the growth of freedom, self-awareness, and independent behavior.

Abstract thinking, reasoning skills, decision-making, problem-solving skills, etc are some of the mental characteristics that get developed over the course of adolescence. 

Mental Health And Adolescence 

Mental health is associated with adolescence due to the changes in hormones and body. Many of the most serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression are often experienced during adolescence. 

Anxiety disorders 

Anxiety disorders can vary from teenager to teenager. A study published by the National Institute of Health has discovered that about 1 in 3 of all adolescents ages 13 to 18 experience an anxiety disorder.

The symptoms of anxiety disorders can vary from withdrawal, unexpected changes in mood, irritability, and lashing out. 


Depression is a common mental health disease that can affect teenagers. The symptoms of depression can be sadness, discouragement, loss of interest, drained energy, and loss of self-worth.

Depression and anxiety share some of the exact symptoms, such as rapid and unexpected mood swings. 

Eating disorders

Eating disorders or anorexia can be avoidant or restrictive in the intake of food or binge eating to a point that can’t be controlled.

Several factors such as genetics, unhealthy dieting techniques, or hormonal changes can cause eating disorders in adolescents. 

Behavioral disorders

The most common disruptive behavior disorders include Learning Disorders, Panic Disorders, PTSD, ADHD, temper tantrums, etc. 

Suicide and self-harm

The different factors that might contribute to self-harm and suicide in adolescents and young adults can be genetic vulnerability and psychiatric, psychological, familial, social, and cultural factors.

Self-harm usually refers to intentionally making injuries or ingesting poisons without the motive of suicide. 

Substance use disorders

The most common substance use disorders found among adolescents and young adults are the consumption of alcohol and cannabis.

It can be caused by multiple factors such as vulnerability, peer pressure, family history of addiction, etc. 


Adolescence is a period that lasts between the age of 10 to 19. It is a transition from childhood to adulthood that accelerates physical and mental development.

The formation of healthy psychological and social norms during this time is of paramount importance. It is also found that the beginning stages of many mental disorders may start occurring during the adolescent period.

Some of the mental disorders that can be seen in adolescents are anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, behavioral disorders, suicide and self-harm, and substance use disorders. 

Promoting mental health in adolescents starts with talking openly about mental illness and the stigma surrounding them. This includes responding to mental health problems promptly, effectively, and sensitively. 

Dr. Jun Ren is a dedicated and experienced registered dietitian and nutritionist who is committed to helping people achieve their health goals through personalized nutrition plans. With a passion for promoting healthy eating habits and preventing chronic diseases, Dr. Ren has been able to assist numerous clients in improving their overall quality of life.

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