Teens often struggle with self-image during adolescence by comparing themselves with others and constantly feeling less worthy than others around them. The problem can escalate if the individual struggles with any mental health disorders.
When a teen has anxiety, depression or an eating disorder they may avoid treatment by keeping their symptoms a secret from friends and family, fear that they’ll be stigmatized.
However, as discussed in an article on PsychCentral by Michele Brennan, Psy.D., the stigma attached to anxiety and depression has largely disappeared. In fact, many patients diagnosed with these disorders struggle to help others understand how their daily lives are impacted. In some cases, family and friends mistakenly believe that because anxiety and depression are common they’re not serious.
Someone concerned that they have a mental disorder can do a quick search Internet search to determine whether a diagnosis or a visit to a treatment center is in order. As a result, Brennan doesn’t think it’s a lack of information about disorders, their symptoms or where to go for help that’s keeping people from seeking treatment. Rather, she believes a lack of self-worth results in mental disorder sufferers avoiding treatment.
In some situations, particularly with depression, anxiety and combinations of the two, Brennan says it doesn’t matter which treatment strategies and therapies are applied — there are many cases in which a lack of self-worth prevents any strategy from resulting in recovery.
Brennan cautions that this may not be the case with every patient, but implementing cognitive exercises and behavioral changes that focus on self-worth may make treatment more effective for some. These strategies could be as simple as encouraging the patient to take time for themselves by taking a warm bath or doing activities such as exercising.
A person may mislabel a lack of self-worth by putting others first at any cost. However, the author offers the example of a new mother needing good nutrition and ample rest to care for a newborn — in this case a healthy level of self-worth is a necessity.
In the case of teenagers, pressures from parents, teachers and coaches can lead to a teen wanting to excel in multiple areas of life, spreading themselves thin in order to please others instead of themselves, which can lead to depression and anxiety.
It is critical that teens understand that the activities they participate in and the achievements they earn at school are separate from their self-worth. Encouraging teens to spend time taking care of themselves can help them add balance and enjoy a healthy lifestyle, particularly in cases in which the teen is challenged by mental health disorders.