Behavioral Health
Behavioral Health

Behavioral Health

What is Behavioral Health? 

Behavioral health is the clinical study of a person's emotions and behaviors as it relates to their well-being, their ability to function in everyday life and their all-around 'concept of self.' While they are technically dissimilar from one another, behavioral health is often used in place of the term mental health. 

Although it is often overlooked, behavioral health is just as critical as physical health, especially in the case of teenagers whose still-developing frontal lobe in charge of impulse control and critical thinking, often raging hormones, and proclivity to suffer from mental health disorders can easily complicate their day-to-day lives and cause them to act out in irrational and out of control behaviors. 

A teenager who is struggling with his or her behavioral health is especially prone to living with depression, anxiety, relational problems, developing a harmful addiction, ADHD-related symptoms, mood disorders, and overbearing stress just to name a few.

When it comes to outpatient or traditional treatment for teens with lacking behavioral health-related issues, life coaches, specially trained nurse practitioners, family physicians and, of course, psychiatric professionals are among the most viable options for parents to utilize.

However, oftentimes, teens with behavioral health issues develop severe mental health-related problems that can cause them to exhibit serious, out of control behaviors on a daily basis.

If these out-of-control behaviors become a daily occurrence then more intensive forms of therapy that surpass that of any treatments traditional therapeutic remedies can offer are most likely needed in order to fully rehabilitate the behavioral and emotional issues of an afflicted teen, such as seeing a physician about  possible prescription medications that may assuage the teen in question's behavior and mental health-related disorder. 

Additionally, it is highly recommended that parents of teens with severe behavioral health concerns seek out the therapeutic services of a reputable residential treatment program for their teenage boy or girl - especially if other, more traditional forms of therapeutic and medication-interventions fail to yield productive results. 

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Behavioral Health vs. Mental Health: What's the Difference? 

While many people associate behavioral and mental health as being one and the same, and although both cover many of the same issues, they are actually separate terms, entirely. 

Behavioral health is a term that encompasses behaviors that stem from a person's state of mental health such as, substance abuse, positive or negative habits, and any external forces or disorders that are not caused exclusively by genetics. 

Mental health, on the other hand, is defined by the World Health Organization as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Mental health mainly encompasses naturally occurring factors such as biology, psychological condition, and also factors that are also covered by behavioral health such as habits - the difference being that behavioral health examines how said habits impact a person's overall mental and physical state. 

Basically, behavioral health is more of a sub-faction of mental health. What's more, not all mental health disorders a result of behavioral-related disorders. While there are a few that are caused by behaviors and habits, some mental health illnesses and disorders are caused by a person's brain chemistry or passed on genetically.

The most common of mental health disorders caused that are not related to behavioral patterns are as follows: 

  • schizophrenia
  • general depression
  • anxiety disorders 
  • bipolar disorder

(note: depression and anxiety disorders can also be caused by a person's actions, just not necessarily so) 

Behavioral health disorders, on the other hand, are caused by a person's negative or self-destructive behavioral patterns. Three examples include: 

  • drug use and addiction
  • gambling addiction
  • food addiction
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Why it's Important to Treat Mental Illness Instead of its Behavioral Symptoms (aka Behavioral Health-Disorders)

Behaviors, in general, are very rarely the foundational issue in an out-of-control, self-destructive teenager's life that need be rehabilitated. Rather, negative behaviors are actually symptomatic of deep-seated mental health disorders or illness. 

In other words, if an out of control teenage boy or girl requires residential treatment, they must be treated for their lacking state of mental health with clinical, psychiatric care. It is only after they receive such critical therapies that a troubled teen's negative behaviors can be squelched.

Think of a troubled teen's issues as an invasive weed. If you were to attempt to merely pul the leafy, prickly crown of the plant, and not by its very root, the weed will simply grow back, perhaps stronger and more malevolent than before. You see, in this example, the behavioral illness - or the negative behaviors of teens - is the superficial prickly stalk and thorny crown of the weed. While its the only the part of the plant that we can physically see and be angered with, frustrated by, or even fearful of its ugliness soon proliferating into an out of control, invasive, garden-killing monster, the top of the weed is not where the plant bears its foundation, and therefore, is almost inconsequential when compared to its main source of life: its roots.

Obviously, in this analogy, the plant's hidden, underground root is the main cause of all the superficial, albeit, glaringly self-evident behavioral issues, or stem of the garden weed. And, just like a weed, when mental health issues are properly treated at the root cause of behavioral issues they can finally be effective in ridding an adolescent of their mentally ill-gotten behavioral dysfunctions. 

The Link Between Behavioral Health and Mental Health

Even though behavioral health disorders are characterized by unhealthy habits, those habits are often not the root cause of the issue. Frequently, behavioral health disorders co-occur with mental illness. To effectively treat any of these conditions, it’s not enough to simply modify behaviors; you must also consider psychiatric care and/or psychological counseling to address the underlying problem. 

Conversely, while many mental health conditions have a biological basis, they can still be severely impacted by your behaviors, in both positive and negative ways. Maladaptive behaviors – such as drinking, using drugs, or overeating – can exacerbate symptoms of a mental health disorder. On the flipside, developing effective coping mechanisms – such as exercising or meditating – can improve both your physical and mental state.

Behavioral Health Disorders

 Behavioral disorders involve a pattern of disruptive behaviors in children that last for at least 6 months and cause problems in school, at home, and in social situations. Behavioral disorders involve a pattern of disruptive behaviors in children that last for at least 6 months and cause problems in school, at home, and in social situations. Nearly everyone shows some of these behaviors at times, but behavior disorders are more serious.

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The Most Common Behavioral Health Disorders

Behavioral health disorders are classified as patterns of disruptive behaviors exhibited by an adolescent for at least a span of six months.

The continuous, habitual behavior patterns in afflicted teens not only have a high risk of negatively impacting the day-to-day lives of the child in question (problems with socializing with other peers, participating in school, becoming lonely etc.)  but also, those who are closest to them - not least of which: their often helplessly worried parents. 

In order to help parents identify potential symptoms and behavioral warning signs of a behavioral disorder, we will cover the symptomatic nature of behavior illness, as well as a brief summary of the three most common and, therefore, devastating behavior-relate3d illnesses affecting teens today. 

Behavioral disorders generally include the following self-destructive behaviors and symptoms:

  • Inattention
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity
  • Defiant behavior
  • drug use
  • criminal activity

The Three Most Common Behavioral disorders:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
  • Conduct Disorder
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Treatment for Behavioral Health Disorders

A Closer Look at the Three Most Common Behavioral Health Disorders 

Oppositional Defiant Disorder: - Oppositional defiant disorder is characterized by 

Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder 

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.

  • Inattention means a person wanders off task, lacks persistence, has difficulty sustaining focus, and is disorganized; and these problems are not due to defiance or lack of comprehension.
  • Hyperactivity means a person seems to move about constantly, including in situations in which it is not appropriate; or excessively fidgets, taps, or talks. In adults, it may be extreme restlessness or wearing others out with constant activity.
  • Impulsivity means a person makes hasty actions that occur in the moment without first thinking about them and that may have a high potential for harm, or a desire for immediate rewards or inability to delay gratification. An impulsive person may be socially intrusive and excessively interrupt others or make important decisions without considering the long-term consequences.

Conduct Disorder -  Conduct disorder (CD) is a mental disorder diagnosed in childhood or adolescence that presents itself through a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate norms are violated. These behaviors are often referred to as "antisocial behaviors."

In general, symptoms of conduct disorder fall into four general categories:

  • Aggressive behavior: These are behaviors that threaten or cause physical harm and may include fighting, bullying, being cruel to others or animals, using weapons, and forcing another into sexual activity.
  • Destructive behavior: This involves the intentional destruction of property such as arson (deliberate fire-setting) and vandalism (harming another person's property).
  • Deceitful behavior: This may include repeated lying, shoplifting, or breaking into homes or cars in order to steal.
  • Violation of rules: This involves going against accepted rules of society or engaging in behavior that is not appropriate for the person's age. These behaviors may include running away, skipping school, playing pranks, or being sexually active at a very young age.
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