Prevalence of Mental Disorders in Teenagers May Be Higher Than Thought

By Staff Writer

Teens go through many changes during the course of their formative years. This can make it difficult to diagnose individuals who have mental health problems that could be serious enough to necessitate a stay at a rehab facility.

However, a new report published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology suggests that parents and healthcare providers may want to be on the lookout for mental health issues. As many as 20 percent of children may meet the criteria for clinical mental disorders at some point in their youth.

Researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health administered face-to-face surveys to more than 10,000 children between the ages of 13 and 18. Anxiety disorders were the most common diagnosis, as 31.9 percent of those surveyed were diagnosed with the condition. A total of 19 percent were diagnosed with behavior disorders, 14 percent had mood disorders and 11.4 percent suffered from substance abuse.

“The present data can inform and guide the development of priorities for future research and health policy by providing previously lacking prevalence estimates in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adolescents, as well as the individual, familial and environmental correlates of mental disorders,” said Kathleen Merikangas, who led the study.