Adolescent Behavioral Health Disorders
Adolescent Behavioral Health Disorders

Adolescent Behavioral Health Disorders



Adolescent Behavioral Health Disorders


Like anything related to mental health issues, adolescent behavioral health disorders can manifest in various ways and for a variety of reasons - both genetic and environmental. When it comes to the following disorders, it is very common for a teen to suffer from more than just one diagnosis.

The following topic page was created to help thoroughly inform parents on what adolescent behavioral health disorders are, symptoms to look out for, potential risk factors, and what they can do in terms of locating the most viable treatment option for their child. 


What are Adolescent-Behavioral Health Disorders? 

Behavioral health disorders in adolescents are classified by disruptive and self-destructive behavior illnesses that negatively impact and disrupt the life of the afflicted teen, as well as those around them. 

These disruptive behavioral disorders often include anti-social behavioral patterns that include extreme defiance, hostility, callous lack of empathy towards others, and even having a proclivity to act on violence (both on oneself and others), as well as other criminal activities like destroying property. 

What Are the Specific Types of Behavioral Disorders?

According to BehaviorDisorder.org, behavioral disorders are broken down into following distinct categorizations: 

Anxiety Disorders 

Anxiety disorders are among the most common and by far the least violent or antagonistic of behavioral disorders. However, they are also severely dangerous for those afflicted.

Anxiety disorders are often accompanied by extreme feelings of depression. Those who suffer from the following types of anxiety illnesses are at high risk of committing self-harm if they do not receive proper therapeutic treatment. 

Anxiety disorders are made up of three main types: 

    • DSM-IV-TR - This category includes the most common and naturally occurring type of anxiety-disorders - eg. panic disorder, phobias, social anxiousness, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Post-traumatic stress disorder  
    • DSM-IV-TR - This category refers to anxiety related illness that is induced by substance abuse - eg. alcohol, amphetamine, cocaine, hallucinogen, or any other type of substance-induced clinical anxiousness.
    • ICD-10 - These types of anxiety behavioral disorders include - organic anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, and other social phobias, and disorders that are specifically linked to childhood such as separation anxiety, and social traumatization.  

Disruptive Behavior Disorders

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, these types of behavior-related illnesses typically occur and first diagnosed during childhood - as young as infancy and continue well into adolescence if left untreated. They consist of two characterizations: 

  • Conduct Disorder -  this illness is classified as a child exhibiting repetitive behavioral dysfunction such as violating norms and showing a lack of respect for the rights and wellness of others. Symptoms of conduct disorder include: showing extreme aggression towards living things, property destruction and other acts of violence. 
  • Oppositional defiant disorder - This Behavior-related illness is classified as negative, hostile and defiant emotions that exceed that of what is normally expected from a child. Symptoms of this disorder include constant arguing, being annoying on purpose/being easily annoyed by others, quick to act on anger, disobedience or indifference towards authority - parental or otherwise - and vindictive and cruel behavior towards others. 
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Dissociative Disorders 

These types of behavior disorders are grounded in psychosis and one's detachment from their psyche in at least one of four classifications. The four classifications consist of: 

  • Psychogenic Fugue - Classified as a one losing their 'sense of identity.' People who experience this disorder are known to go on spontaneously leave their community and even start new identities elsewhere. 
  • Depersonalization Disorder - Described as feeling outside of oneself, almost living life through a third-person perspective 
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder - Formerly called Multiple Personality Disorder, DID refers to a condition in which a person copes with unbearable stress by switching to an alternative identity, with an individual name, personality, and history. People who have DID, usually also suffer from Dissociative Amnesia.
  • Dissociative Amnesia - unlike common amnesia, memories remain present in those who experience this illness. However, while they are technically present, the individual's memories are 'not available to conscious memory.' 

Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) dissassociative disorders

PDD is made up of diagnoses that are classified as a child's delayed development in communication and socialization skills. The three most common of these types of behavioral illnesses include: 

  • Autism 
  • Rett Syndrome
  • Asperger's Syndrome 
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Teen-Specific Behavior Disorders

Life would be much easier if we could treat people of all ages the same and if they had the same symptoms for each illness or disorder. As with most medical issues, teen behavior disorders are different than child behavior disorders or adult behavior disorders. It is important to know what these disorders are and what to do if you suspect that your teen has one.

  • Cutting/self-harm - Cutting is a type of mutilation used with any object that involves cutting areas of the skin in order to draw blood. While this is a fairly common self-destructive behavior amongst mentally ill teens, if left untreated can continue well into adulthood, and can even lead to suicidal ideation. Other forms of self-harm include burning, hitting, or otherwise causing harm to one's own body. 
  • Risky behaviors (such as shoplifting)  -  When it comes to committing risky behaviors (such as shoplifting and other, criminal, or otherwise dangerous behaviors), troubled teens can act on them for a variety of different reasons eg. rush-seeking, wanting to be accepted by other peers, and inability to control one's impulsivity. 0
  • Trichotillomania - This self-harming impulse involves one feeling an overwhelming urge to violently pull their hair out. Most commonly found in girls, trichotillomania can involve pulling large or small amounts of hair from any part of one's body. 

Understanding Adolescent Behavioral Health-related Issues

Adolescence is hallmarked by emotional lability due to changing hormones and further developing of the brain. However, an inability to maintain emotional control, inappropriate emotions in normal situations, or exceptionally hostile and maybe violent behavior is a sign of larger emotional and behavioral issues in adolescents. In understanding adolescent behavioral health issues, it’s important to remember that not only are there a variety of specific emotional and behavioral disorders teens may experience, but they may also suffer from more than one disorder.

Some Behavior-based disorders, such as anxiety and depression, are often experienced in simultaneously or one after another. 

It’s also quite common for co-occurring disorders to occur in those with behavioral health-related disturbances. For example, a co-occurring disorder of substance abuse and addiction is twice as likely to occur in adolescents who experience severe emotionally traumatic mental illnesses, like that of anxiety or depressive disorders. 

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What are the Causes and Risk Factors of Adolescent Behavioral Disorders?

Behavioral experts state that known causes of adolescent behavioral disorders are - in most cases - a mixture of several different factors working in tandem with one another. These simultaneous factors include physical, hereditary, and environmental. 

Physical Factors: These factors include behavioral disorders which were obtained through outside stimuli or trauma. Among the most common of these are attributed to head injuries and birth defects such as being born with low weight etc. 

Environmental Factors: these types of factors include experiencing trauma - typically at a young age (but can occur at nearly any point during a person's life). Children who were physically, emotionally, or sexually abused or suffered neglect are at enormous risk of developing a behavioral disorder later in life. 

Psychological Factors: These factors, as the title suggests, have to do with teens with a psychological disorder or illness. For examples who have a mental illness such as bipolar disorder or depression are at higher risk of developing a behavioral illness than those who do not have a mental health-related disorder. 

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Behavior Disorders and Co-occurring Disorders

Without properly addressing these disruptive behavior problems and getting appropriate treatment, the behaviors that stem from a behavioral health-related illness will only worsen.

Teenagers with a diagnosis of conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder are especially at risk of facing long-term consequences. If left untreated, certain adolescent behavior health disorders can lead to severe consequences and co-occurring disorders such as: 

  • Legal problems
  • Incarceration
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • A decline in school performance
  • Suspension or expulsion from school
  • Engagement in risky behaviors
  • Development of antisocial personality disorder
  • Social isolation
  • Troubled family relationships
  • Development of conduct disorder
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