Many teenagers complain of extreme fatigue, but it can become a serious problem for some girls and young women. Often, extreme or unusual fatigue coexists with a mood disorder. Read on to learn how you can tell if your teen is experiencing normal fatigue or if something more concerning is lurking beneath the surface.
New surveys done by the National Institute of Mental Health define prolonged fatigue as lasting three months or longer. One survey found that 3 percent of teens ages 13 to 18 experienced this debilitating condition, and more than half of those teens reported severe or very severe difficulty with school, family or social situations. Over half of the teens with prolonged fatigue reported that it existed in combination with depression or anxiety.
This data suggests that, if your teen is experiencing prolonged fatigue, it is likely not that she is lazy, but she may actually suffer from either mental or physical disorders that require the attention of a medical professional. One of the major issues surrounding this complex interaction is that it often goes unrecognized and untreated. For teens with depression or anxiety, their fatigue is an important indication of adverse health conditions.
Anxiety is a normal part of childhood, and every child tends to go through bouts that are temporary and harmless. But if your child suffers from an anxiety disorder, she may often seem fearful, nervous or shy. She may begin to avoid certain people, places or activities. Anxiety disorder affects 1 in 8 children and teens. A correlation often exists between untreated anxiety disorders and poor performance in school. Children suffering from anxiety tend to miss out on important social experiences, and some even engage in substance abuse. In many cases, they will cite being tired or exhausted as their reason for not engaging in activities they formerly enjoyed.
Having the blues or feeling down in the dumps can also be a normal part of growing up, and most teens feel this way occasionally. Adolescence is, after all, an unsettling time. Many emotional, physical and psychological changes take place during this time in life, so feeling down every so often is considered normal. Keep an eye out for a decline in school performance, withdrawal from friends and activities, sadness and hopelessness, lack of enthusiasm or motivation, anger, rage, overreaction to criticism, feelings of being unable to live up to expectations, poor self-esteem, guilt or other social problems. Any of these symptoms can be a warning sign of depression. You may also notice changes in eating and sleeping patterns, restlessness, agitation, substance abuse issues, problems with authority and suicidal thoughts and actions. If you notice any of these, especially in combination with extreme fatigue or excessive sleep, seek professional help for your teen right away.
A little fatigue is common every now and again, especially if your daughter is under a lot of stress. If you notice unusual, prolonged fatigue in your teenager, however, especially in combination with symptoms of anxiety or depression, contact a mental health professional immediately. The sooner you get professional help, the better the outcome will be for your teen and your family. The mental health professionals at Havenwood Academy can assess your daughter and identify any anxiety or depression issues that may be affecting her life. Contact them today to discuss your concerns about your teen’s extreme fatigue.