Adolescent Behavioral Health and Disorders
Adolescent Behavioral health and disorders is a wide-ranging term that is used to describe the level of behavioral patterns; essentially mental illnesses that are not biological in nature.
Rather than being passed down through genetics or other biological factors, behavioral disorders are characterized as a range of deliberate choices, eg., abusing harmful substances, committing self-harm, or engaging in dangerously unhealthy eating habits (bulimia, anorexia, binge eating etc.).
While the two terms are different – behavioral health refers to one’s how one behaves, whereas mental health refers to a person’s inherent level mental state – behavioral and mental health are terms that are often mistakenly used interchangeably.
However, it should be noted that while they are technically separate clinical issues, behavioral health is characterized by one’s emotional feelings and behavioral tendencies, both of which greatly affect the state of a person’s mental health. It is perhaps because of their symbiotic nature and intrinsic connections that these two terms are often confused for the other, or mistakenly believed to be one and the same.
The Behavioral Health of Troubled Teens
As millions of American parents can attest, our nation has seen an annually increasing rise in the number of troubled teens – adolescents who, most likely due to mental health or behavioral health-related issues, act out in persistent, self-sabotaging behaviors.
It should be noted that troubled teens – who act out in self-destructive behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse, acts of self-harm, petulant anti-establishment (disrespecting and acting indifferent to any type of authority figure such as, teachers, coaches, parents, and other adults), and expressing flagrant disobedience and/or disdain to other family members and parents, (just to name a few) – are adolescents who are in need of residential treatment to rehabilitate their lacking behavioral and mental health issues and disorders.
In other words, if a teenage child is continuously acting out in self-sabotaging behaviors that are indicative of suffering from a failing state of behavioral health, it is most likely due to underlying, mental health issues that are responsible for causing such negative behavioral patterns to take place. However, fortunately for parents of troubled boys and girls, with the assistance of a proven therapeutic, residential treatment program, troubled teenage-behaviors can be effectively rehabilitated.
Adolescent Behavioral Disorders
According to the experts at MentalHealth.gov, a behavioral disorder is a pattern of disruptive behaviors in adolescents that last up to at least six months in duration. These maladaptive behavioral patterns vary in symptoms as well as the severity in which they affect an afflicted teen. Other differences include the various ways in which a diagnosis can be developed, naturally or otherwise.
While some behavioral disorders of troubled teens are no fault of their own, but rather passed on genetically (These disorders include: ADHD, Autism, Depression, Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder) there are others (including that of conduct disorders, substance abuse, and oppositional defiant disorder) that are caused by impulsivity and self-destructive decision-making rather than being innate or intrinsic in nature.
In any case, behavioral disorders – either genetic or self-inflicted – can be effectively treated with an effective residential treatment therapy program.
The Different Types of Adolescent Behavioral Disorders
Like any mental health-related diagnoses, behavioral disorders come in various forms.
Behavioral disorders are quite specific, albeit wide-ranging, though, and can be broken up into five types of classification: Pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), dissociative disorders, anxiety disorders, emotional disorders, and finally, disruptive disorders.
Each of these five types of behavioral disorders can also be broken down into several different classifications, themselves.
These clinical diagnoses are as follows:
Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD)
PDD is an all-inclusive term that is used to describe disorders that are intellectual in nature. These disorders include autism and other spectrum-related illnesses.
Dissociative disorders are characterized by an involuntary escape from reality as well as a disconnection between thoughts, identity, consciousness, and memory.
These types of disorders include:
- Dissociative Amnesia
- Depersonalization disorder
- Dissociative Identity Disorder
Feelings of anxiety are completely normal and quite common among hormonal-raging teenagers. However, for some teens, anxiety is a near-constant and inescapable feeling. Teens who experience this type of pervasive anxiousness experience at least one of four types of severe, anxiety disorder.
These types of disorders include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
An emotional disorder is used to describe any type of behavioral ailment that debilitatingly affects a teen’s ability to control their emotions, thus negatively affecting the state of their overall well-being, in the process. Those with emotional disorders may also have immense difficulty paying attention or following a train of thought composed by someone other than themselves.
According to Gallaudet University, symptoms of an emotional behavioral disorder include:
- Inappropriate actions or emotions under normal circumstances
- Learning difficulties that are not caused by another health factor
- Difficulty with interpersonal relationships, including relationships with teachers and peers
- A general feeling of unhappiness or depression
- Feelings of fear and anxiety related to personal or school matters
Disruptive Behavior Disorders
Disruptive behavior disorders are among the easiest to identify of all coexisting conditions because they involve behaviors that are readily seen such as temper tantrums, physical aggression such as attacking other children, excessive argumentativeness, stealing, and other forms of flagrant defiance or resistance to authority.
These types of disorders Include:
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder
- Conduct Disorder
The Most Common Types of Behavioral Disorders
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) – A disorder that causes intense levels of hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors. Teens who have ADHD generally have immense difficulty with staying focused or paying attention for any extended amount of time. Due to their attention-related challenges, teens who have ADHD may also struggle academically and socially.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) – A disruptive behavior disorder (typically found in teenage boys) that is characterized by constant and pervasive oppositional behaviors.
ODD is defined by American Psychiatric Association’s style Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) as including persistent symptoms of “negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behaviors toward authority figures.” eg. Angry outbursts and flagrant acts of disrespect toward authority figures, such as parents, teachers, coaches, etc.
Conduct Disorder (CD) – A disruptive behavioral disorder that is characterized by a constant and persistent display of extreme anti-social or violent behaviors caused by inner, intense feelings of aggression or hostility. 4-10% of American teenage boys are diagnosed with conduct disorder.
Substance Abuse Disorder (SAD) – These types of disorders are characterized by self-destructive behavioral patterns in which a teen continues to abuse harmful substances – illicit or otherwise – despite the many physical and mental health-related problems that are caused by its usage. The most common substances abused by teens with SAD are alcohol, antianxiety medications, cannabis, hallucinogens (including LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, etc.), inhalants (including glues, paint thinner, etc.), opioids (including fentanyl, morphine, and oxycodone), and stimulants (including, amphetamines and cocaine).
Signs and Symptoms of Behavioral Disorders:
As every troubled teen who is diagnosed with a behavioral disorder is unique, so too is their illness and the way in which they react to said illness. However, while symptoms might subtly vary on a case-by-case basis, there are common and identifiable symptoms of behavioral disorders that parents can promptly recognize.
- Uncharacteristically becomes easily aggravated or annoyed
- Is often angry or onery
- Is quick to blame others rather than take responsibility
- Has an aversion to any type of authority
- Has a proclivity to argue or throw petulant fits
- Has immense difficulty in dealing with frustration
- Is quick to fight with or show disdain for those who disagree
- Seemingly has a lack of empathy
It should also be noted that behavioral disorder symptoms are typically emotional in nature and void of any discernible physical symptoms. Rather, behavioral related-illnesses can cause behaviors or activities that, in turn, can lead to the development of physical symptoms, eg., substance abuse or acts of self-harm.
Why Intensive Treatment for Behavioral Disorders is Necessary for Troubled Teens
Like any mental health-related issue, a behavioral disorder in a troubled teen boy is not a diagnosis to be taken likely. Without proper treatment, behavioral disorders can go on to completely devastate the life and family an afflicted, troubled teen. This is why behavioral experts strongly recommend that parents of troubled teens with a behavior disorder-diagnosis seek immediate and effective long-term, residential treatment for their at-risk child.
As any parent of an out-of-control teenage boy can attest, trying to help them get back on the “straight and narrow” is no easy task. Suffice to say, If a troubled teen’s behavioral issues are further hindered by a behavior-related mental illness, trying to get through them in any logical or meaningful way can be next to impossible. Moreover, if a parent is unable to change their child’s cotemporaneous behavioral illness and out-of-control behaviors, the results can be devastatingly tragic.
This notion is especially valid when it comes to the percentage of clinically behavioral-deficient teens suffering from disruptive maladies such as conduct or oppositional defiance disorders. A troubled teen who meets these therapeutically-specific criteria is prone to dangerous emotions such as aggression, severe anxiety, and extreme depression.
Furthermore, teens who exhibit these often intense and debilitating emotions, but fail to receive any form of adequate treatment, are at a much higher risk of committing dangerously self-sabotaging behaviors than that of a behaviorally-healthy teenager.
These self-damaging behaviors may include but are not limited to:
- impulsive decision-making
- acts of violence
- abusing or becoming addicted to harmful substances
Teens With Un-or-mistreated Behavioral Disorders Often Turn to Dangerous Acts of Self-Medicating
All too often, behaviorally-unhealthy teens will turn to harmful self-medicating as a means of dulling the pain caused by their un-or-mistreated behavioral disorder. The most common way of dangerous self-medicating includes abusing harmful substances – both illicit and prescription – and acts of self-harm – such as cutting, scratching, hitting, pulling hair, or other any other form of self-inflicted acts of violence or mutilation.
As to why behaviorally disordered-teens commit such acts of self-destruction, the answer is simple: drugs and alcohol numb them from intense, most likely untreated, mental or behavioral illness that internally plagues them.
As for self-harm, teens with a severely damaged state of mental or behavioral health can focus on physical pain which, in turn, diverts attention away from their mental or emotional pains, albeit, temporarily.
While drug abuse/addiction and inclinations to commit self-harm are seriously grave, even potentially fatal, behavioral health issues, they can be successfully treated with adequate mental health treatments.
However, parents should be cautioned that regular, one-on-one, or even traditional group therapy sessions are often not intensive enough to yield any long-lasting behavioral or emotional changes for these types of self-medicating teens. Rather, parents should look to effective, top-tier, residential treatment centers or therapeutic boarding schools while searching for a viable treatment program for their troubled teen.
These long-term treatment facilities offer addicted or self-harming teens with the 24/7, intensive care that is needed to combat such mental and behavioral ailments.
Untreated Behavioral Disorders can Prove Fatal Among Teenage Boys
For further proof of the significance in locating an effective treatment program for a teen’s behavioral health-related issues, one need look no further than the ever-rising statistics concerning the untimely and avoidable teenage fatalities in the US.
According to TeensDrugAbuse.gov, 3,000 teens died from accidental or purposeful drug overdoses in 2015. However, overdose-related fatalities among teens were dwarfed by that of fatalities by way of suicide, which to this day, remains to be the second-leading cause of death among teenage males.
With just these statistics in mind, parents should seek immediate treatment for their child if they often exhibit any of the following signs and symptoms of a teen who might act upon thoughts of self-harm or engage in dangerous acts of self-medicating, such as abusing harmful substances:
- Sudden, abrupt changes in personality
- Expressions of hopelessness and despair
- Declining grades and school performance
- Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Increased irritability and aggressiveness
- Lack of hygiene
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Prone to fits of rage and/or violence
- Inability to act with self-control
- Anti-social proclivities such as isolating oneself in a room for extended periods, or…
- Withdrawal from family, friends, and relationships
- Using drugs or any other types of self-harm as a means to Self-medicate
The Most Common Types of Behavioral Treatment Programs
Residential Treatment Centers: A live-in health care facility that specifically aims to support troubled teens. These types of treatment facilities typically provide a range of therapies and treatment programs for youth that will help them overcome a wide range of behavioral, mental, and emotional issues. Generally speaking, residential treatment centers are run by therapeutic professionals who have vast experience in working with troubled teens. The staff of a residential treatment center often use a range of therapies and techniques within a clinical and residential setting.
Experiential Treatment Programs: As the title suggests, this type of program that involves using experiences to reach troubled teens on a therapeutic level. More specifically, experiential treatment encourages teens to address deep-rooted, internal behavioral and mental health-related issues by means of living through an ‘experience.’ Some examples of experiential treatments include (but are not limited to) recreation, equine-assisted, art, music, and wilderness therapies.
Therapeutic Boarding Schools: (as seen on our “Therapeutic Boarding School Page“) Therapeutic boarding schools are specialized facilities for troubled teens that have characteristics of both residential treatment facilities and traditional boarding schools. These dynamic facilities act as an intervention for the purpose of restoring and improving the lives of troubled teens. Additionally, therapeutic boarding schools provide academic restoration as well.
What Separates Monuments from Other Residential Treatment Centers/Therapeutic Boarding Schools?
There are many aspects of Monuments TC that separate our facility from any other. Among these key differences is our philosophy. You see, at Monuments, we employ what is called a “Family Adaptive Model” (FAM) that is designed to address the roles and narratives that exist within each family. Essentially, this means that we will enlist the help of a troubled teen’s family so that they may be involved in every aspect of their troubled child’s recovery, every step of the way.
Although each young man and his family are different, every family passes common milestones. The decision to have a child and expand the family is one example of a milestone.
Another key factor that separates our program from others is our approach to rehabilitating the lives of teens. Whereas most programs employ a ‘level system’ designed to modify or change unwanted behaviors, we at Monuments find that this approach is ineffective as it fundamentally undermines the crucial bond between staff and student. Rather than focus on change through behavioral modification (level systems), we believe that change comes through one’s choices.
Our students and families will be invited to join with us and educate our team around what they want to accomplish and the things that they need to work on. Our team will work with them to craft a plan of action and help them identify the goals they want to accomplish along the way.
Help is just a phone call away!
If you are the parent of a troubled teen whose behavioral disorder has set them on a path of self-destruction, please do not hesitate to call our child placement specialists who will educate you on our behavioral and mental health-related services as well as provide detailed information regarding our one of a kind treatment facility.
For immediate assistance, please call us at (800) 559-1980.