Behavioral health is a wide-ranging term that is used to describe the level of a person’s behavioral patterns, as well as behavioral disorders, which are 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 technically different – behavioral health refers to one’s how one behaves, whereas mental health refers to a person’s level of mental state – behavioral and mental health are terms that are often used interchangeably.
However, in actuality, behavioral health is characterized by one’s emotional feelings and behavioral tendencies, both of which greatly affect our ability to function in everyday life.
Troubled Teen Behavioral Health
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-related issues, act out in persistent, self-sabotaging behaviors.
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 mere 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 conducive to suffering from lacking behavioral health issues, it is most likely due to underlying, mental health issues that are responsible for such negative behavioral patterns. 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. While some behavioral disorders in an afflicted teen are no fault of their own but rather passed on genetically (These disorders include: ADHD, Autism, Depression, and Bipolar Disorder) there are others (including that of conduct disorders, substance abuse, and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) just to name a few) that are simply poor decision making.
In any case, behavioral disorders, both genetic and self-destructive decision-making, can be effectively treated with an effective residential treatment therapy program.
The Most Common Type of Behavioral Disorders Include
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 difficulties, teens who suffer from ADHD may struggle academically and socially.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) – Angry outbursts and flagrant acts of disrespect towards authority figures, such as parents, teachers, coaches, etc.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – A broad range of disorders that (depending on the severity) are known to be socially, behaviorally and cognitively devastating for those who are afflicted. These types of maladies are what behavioral experts refer to as, neurological disorders.
General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – Characterized by feelings of persistent worrying and anxiousness, GAD is one of the most common mental illnesses among teens, second to only that of depression (in terms of the sheer number of affected teens. Due to extreme worrying, teens who suffer from GAD are prone to isolating themselves from the rest of the world. Additionally, afflicted teens are typically plagued by feelings of social anxiousness which, to much of their consternation, can make them appear or sound socially inept to peers and adults, alike.
Depression – Also classified as a mood disorder, depression is the most common behavioral disorder affecting nearly 20% of teens at some point during their adolescence. In addition to being the most widespread behavioral disorder, depression is also the most dangerous mental illness known to man. For further proof of this, one need look no further than suicide rates among teens. According to recent statistics, suicide is currently the third-leading cause of death among young people aged 15-24.
Teenage Self-destructiveness: Most Likely Due to Behavioral Health Disorder
Behavior Disorders are known to cause the following self-destructive behaviors:
- Experimentation, addiction to drug use
- Alcohol dependence
- Eating disorders – including anorexia, bulimia, and binging
- Defiant and indifferent behavior towards most, if not all, authority figures
Conduct Disorder in Troubled Teens: Among the Most Dangerous Behavioral Disorders
One behavioral disorder parents need to be wary of is called conduct disorder. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) describes Conduct Disorder as a group of persistent behavioral and emotional problems in children. According to the experts, troubled teens who have conduct disorder are anti-authoritative and are most likely to struggle with following the rules and showing or feeling empathy towards others. These problematic characteristics, when conflated with anti-social and isolating behavior can lead to afflicted teens to engage in increasingly hostile, aggressive, and even criminal behaviors.
Teens who have conduct disorder are more likely to engage in the following behaviors:
– Actions of Violence Towards Animals and Other People: Teens who are afflicted by conduct disorder have a proclivity to inflict pain – both physical and emotional – on other people and even (typically) small animals. Afflicted teens are also more likely than average children to start physical altercations, intimidate others with threatening behavior, steal from others using while using violence, and even force someone into sexual activity.
– Destroying Property: Diagnosed teens are also more likely to engage in the destroying of another person’s property – this includes all kinds of property that range from committing arson to smashing another schoolmate’s personal phone.
– Deceitful Behaviors: Of course, teens with this antisocial personality disorder are more prone to deceive others in order to gain power or trick whom they mean to hurt or steal from. Unlike its other, more brazenly confrontational behaviors, deceitful behaviors of conduct disorder are typically committed in secret, unbeknownst to victims of a conduct disorder diagnosed teen.
Deceitful behaviors of this nature include relatively benign behaviors such as lying to avoid obligations, to more severe and sinister behaviors, such as breaking and entering someone’s home and stealing items without rousing the suspicions of their victims (who are typically made up of neighbors and nearby neighborhoods, acquaintances, family members and other people who are likely to know or engage with the teenage assailer).
Signs and Symptoms of a Behavioral Health Disorder
Like all psychological issues, there are many signs and symptoms of behavioral health-related disorders. Among the most common symptoms are uncharacteristic changes in a teen’s mood, personality, habits, and antisocial, isolating behaviors.
Most severe behavioral disorders are easier to detect the more severe they become. Due to the extreme change in their son or daughter’s behavior and personality, parents of a child with a behavioral disorder are likely to notice that something is amiss.
However, signs and symptoms of a potential behavior-related condition for parents to be wary of are not limited to those that are psychological in nature. According to behavioral experts, physical symptoms are just as identifiable. Physical symptoms include, but are not limited to, self-mutilation, insomnia (or other sleep-related issues), violent episodes, and an extreme change in eating habits.
The following change in behaviors, feelings, and symptoms may be indicative of a potential behavioral disorder in a teenage boy or girl:
- Withdrawaling from social-life and an overall loss of interest of other company
- Showing a drastic loss of interests, including school, work etc.
- Appearing apathetic towards activities that were once enjoyed
- Appearing increasingly nervous or paranoid about what others think
- Sleeping too little or too much
- An extreme change in eating habits
- A feeling of being disconnected from one’s self or one’s surroundings
Upon noticing any of the aforementioned physical or mental symptoms in their child’s behavior, parents should seek immediate psychiatric treatment for their child.
What Causes Behavioral Disorders?
Like most mental health-related illnesses, the wide-ranging spectrum of behavioral disorders are as complex as they are dangerous to ignore. And, like most complex issues of the mind, there are several potential factors that contribute to the development of behavioral disorders.
While expert opinions may slightly vary in opinion, the general consensus is that when it comes to developing a behavioral disorder, there are likely several different contributing factors at play, rather than a sole contributing cause. These potential causes include factors that are biological, psychological, and environmental in nature.
Like most mental health-related issues, behavioral disorders begin to manifest and take shape during the time of one’s adolescence. As to why these types of illnesses develop during adolescence, experts state that it’s because children and teens are more sensitive to potential developing factors (psychological, environmental, biological) than that of adults, and therefore are more likely to be negatively affected by them.
The Rise of Behavioral Disorder Diagnoses
With one out of four teens suffering from depression at some point during their adolescence, and with suicide being the third-leading cause of death among American adolescents, it’s safe to say that our nation’s behavioral disorders have become an epidemic issue, one that demands our immediate attention and intervention.
For proof of how much of an issue behavioral disorders have become, one need look no further than statistics reported by the National Alliance of Mental Illness, or NAMI.
…Behavioral disorders are becoming more prevalent with each passing year…
Recent statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) state that as high as 15% of all pediatrician visits are due to mental health-related issues that include depression, bipolar and anxiety disorders. While these visits included all varying types of mental and behavioral health disorders, NAMI’s report found that ADHD is the most common illness among teens, while depression was found to be the most dangerous threat to a teen’s overall health and lifespan.
NAMI also informs us that one in five teens will develop a behavioral health-related disorder or illness. According to their report, 50% of affected teens will develop a disorder by the age of 14. Among the disorders included in NAMI’s report include substance abuse, depression, and ADHD.