Senioritis and Teen Mental Health

Senioritis is a term referring to a common problem faced by many high school seniors. A more dismissive attitude toward school, lack of motivation, increased absences, and a lack of studying are some of the signs a teen may be suffering from this “disease.” While not a real disease where medical diagnostics are concerned, it may coincide with some more serious real mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and other more serious illnesses.

In my practice I regularly see teens who’re feeling extreme pressures regarding succeeding in high school so that they can get into a good college and build a career. The rising costs of college, a dwindling job market, economic hardships, the rising cost of living, and increasing lengths of time that young adults are dependant upon their parents are some of the factors that play into the possibility that teens may feel pressure and negativity as they near the age where they are expected to strike out on their own.

One out of two teens say that they have struggled with mental illness as some point with depression and anxiety as the number one and number two issues faced by teens. 46% of teens say they have contemplated suicide. 86.43% of teens feel that there is a negative stigma around mental illness, which can get in the way of seeking help.

These are startling numbers. Parents, teachers and anyone who is connected with teens can make a real difference by paying close attention to teens in their lives and making sure that they feel well supported, heard, and understood.   Some of the signs that a teen may need additional support include the following:

Frequent Feelings:

  • Sad
  • Anxious
  • Empty
  • Hopeless
  • Guilty
  • Worthless
  • Helpless
  • Irritable
  • Restless

Other symptoms:

  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Lack of energy
  • Problems concentrating, remembering information, or making decisions
  • Problems falling sleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much
  • Loss of appetite or eating too much
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
  • Ongoing Aches, pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems.

If you or a young person you know is showing any of these signs, it’s important to make sure that they get help. You can learn more about what to look for, and how to help at the website listed below for the National Institute of Mental Health. I’ll be talking more about how to support teens in my next post.


2014, Teen Trend Report


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