Continuing Medical Education

Update on adolescent mental health

Saeeda Paruk, Enver Karim

Abstract


Adolescence is a period of significant physical, social and emotional change and therefore a vulnerable period for the development of
mental illness. Many psychiatric disorders have their onset during adolescence. Approximately 20% of children have a mental health
disorder, but the majority of disorders are not detected and treated. Risk factors for mental illness include: genetic vulnerability,
neurobiological factors and psychosocial stressors. Common mental disorders during this period are mood, anxiety and substance
related, with adolescents often presenting with comorbidity. Healthcare practitioners should screen for adolescent mental illness and
associated
suicide risk. Brief screening tools such as the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire are useful in detecting mood and
anxiety disorders in primary care settings. While there is increasing evidence for the efficacy of psychotropic medications in adolescents,
more research is still required. Management of adolescent mental health problems generally requires a combination of psychotropic
medication and psychosocial interventions. Early intervention and support in an integrated medical and psychiatric healthcare system
is required.


Authors' affiliations

Saeeda Paruk, Discipline of Psychiatry, School of Clinical Medicine, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban; and King Dinizulu Hospital, Durban

Enver Karim, Discipline of Psychiatry, School of Clinical Medicine, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban; and King Dinizulu Hospital, Durban

Full Text

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Keywords

Adolescent; Mental health; Mental illness; Mood disorders; Anxiety disorders

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2016;106(6):548-550. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2016.v106i6.10943

Article History

Date submitted: 2016-04-20
Date published: 2016-05-14

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