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Current challenges to the health of Adolescence

A large majority of adolescents aged 12 to 17 consider themselves to be healthy. However, studies on the factors linked to their behaviors and lifestyles and on their use of the health care system show that this statement must be qualified. Although teens appear in many ways healthier than adults, they are also subject to certain specific risks. In addition, this age group is not homogeneous, with particular different health problems between boys and girls.

Malnutrition in adolescence

During the developmental age, nutrition must support the growth of the organism through the supply of appropriate nutrients to the increased energy needs. Teenage girls, in particular, need more iron and calcium when they grow.

Above all, it is important to observe and know-how to intervene in the correction of irregular eating behaviors that in adolescence can range from the consumption of junk food to the skipping of meals, up to real disorders of eating behavior (anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia). 

Sexually transmitted diseases 

With regard to sexually transmitted diseases, these are continuously increasing in the world while the age at which they occur decreases more and more. The tendency, especially of young people having multiple sexual partners, means that the population between 15 and 24 years of age is one of the most exposed to this group of infectious diseases and that one in 20 adolescents has a bacterial infection acquired via sexual intercourse.

According to a Census study "Adolescents and Millennials, sexuality and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and HPV" (2017), the distinction between contraception and prevention is not always clear. In fact, if 70.7% say they use condoms as a preventive tool, 17.6% for the same reasons claim to use the birth control pill, mistakenly conceiving it, therefore, not as a contraceptive method but as a preventive tool.

Depression and dysthymia

Depression affects adolescence in many ways. The concern due to integration into a group, low self-esteem due to acne and bullying problems, are just some of the causes of depression in this age group.

Dysthymia, other than depression, may also occur. This disorder presents itself as a mild and, at the same time, chronic form of depression. We are talking about periods that last at least two years.

Family support will be crucial. For this reason, any change or obvious sign of a mental disorder should not be taken for granted or labeled "teenage things." It is well known that teenagers do not speak much, that the family is not the environment in which they express themselves easily. For this reason, it is essential to keep your eyes open and pay intelligent attention to it.

Anxiety disorders

Anxiety is a real health challenge if there is a phase in which it is widespread; it is adolescence. The expectations of a teenager or those that others may have towards him can cause severe stress. Also, not feeling up to it or problems with your friends can severely upset a teenager and cause him or her anxiety.

The symptoms that can make us suspicious of an anxiety problem are clear. Is there any insomnia? They could be confused with the typical mood swings of this stage. However, stomach aches, with no apparent cause, and muscle tension are symptoms enough to consult a specialist. If not, better.

Anorexia, bulimia and uncontrolled feeding disorder

The problems related to nutrition are, without a shadow of a doubt, among the best known. Teens are used to letting off steam with food, because of the criticisms of their body, and also because they are influenced by the impossible canons of beauty advertised and sold by society at a high price. It is precisely through nutrition that they seek to gain control over their weight.

However, the problem does not necessarily come from this attitude, but from the fact that teenagers are used to making decisions without consulting anyone. Often these decisions are very restrictive; they are applied in the form of punishment or as a kind of antidote against anxiety and can have disastrous consequences for their body.

In some circumstances, such ailments are the manifestation of a larger problem. For example, a childhood trauma that led the teenager to feel guilty, to feel bad about him, and to hurt himself. For this reason, it is quite common for these disorders to manifest themselves through self-injurious actions.

Antisocial and oppositional provocative disorder

Does the teenager steal? Do you use violence against people and animals? It is easy for people who are not experts in the field to confuse provocative antisocial/oppositional disorder with a natural problem of adolescence. On the contrary, this behavior can be a symptom of a much more serious problem.

Disobeying adults, not respecting the rules, stealing, and being perpetually angry are some of the signs that can indicate the presence of a mental disorder. Young people seem to respect nothing, act without thinking, are very impulsive, and do not take into account the integrity of others, a complicated period, or something more? The best thing to do is to consult a specialist.

Seeking help will be very important. It is normal for parents, when faced with a disorder of this kind, to feel powerless or to look for erroneous reasons; sometimes, they can even think that they have not educated their children in the right way. However, these misleading ideas can lead to adopting a passive and submissive attitude towards their children, which will not help.

The role of parents in a teenager's growth process and health crisis

Due to the complexity of the transition period of adolescence, the role of parents is not simple. Sometimes accused of indifference, sometimes of intrusiveness, the "trick" lies in the search for open dialogue without prejudices or prejudices i.e., talking, understanding what friendships and acquaintances are, looking for a meeting point while keeping the parent/child role game firm. Rather, it is important that the adolescents of tomorrow are "prepared" to live in what will be a new condition, even if transitory since they are children: family, schoolhealth of Adolescence, and network of relationships must work in time to build strong relationships and solid certainties.

Author: Vicki Lezama


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