Researchers Find New Ways of Interacting With Teens With Severe Depression and Bipolar Disorder
In a country that has seen its fair share of epidemics that include gun violence, heart disease, and opioid addictions, there is no other sickness that plagues our society’s youth more than mental illness. As it stands, one in three teenagers lives with severe depression or anxiety -- often, a debilitating mixture of the two. To make matters worse, suicide is the third-leading cause of death among adolescents between the ages of 12-18.
Even with widespread, rampant mental illness affecting our nation’s young, mental illness remains a misunderstood stigma that many of us are completely ignorant of, especially in terms of its severity and potentially tragic consequences if left untreated.
Within the misunderstood nature of depression and anxiety are their symptoms. The following article covers one uniquely misunderstood symptom, in particular, psychosis. But more importantly, it covers what can be done to treat it.
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AIM-funded postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Marc Weibtraub’s UCLA group-based treatment utilizes a skills-based approach for adolescents experiencing or at-risk for severe depression, bipolar disorder and psychosis.
Psychosis is typically misunderstood and is often conventionalized as a worsening of social anxiety. And it may seem that way… at the beginning.
Psychosis is a symptom – not a diagnosis – in the context of mood disorders. Bipolar disorder and depression can both have psychotic features, but symptoms of psychosis can exist without meeting the criteria to be diagnosed with a disorder.
Someone who experiences psychosis may have started by feeling nervous about what other people are thinking about them. Over time, those feelings can start to worsen, and the initial social anxieties morph into substantial fear.
Child looking hopeful for Miranda, psychosis meant feeling suspicious of other people’s intentions and fearing for her safety. At first, when Miranda was just 13 years old, she began experiencing extreme depression and crippling anxiety. Over the next four years, while her parents frantically searched for answers, her challenges with her mental health grew worse.
By age 17, Miranda had developed severe psychosis. She wondered whether people might want to harm her and started experiencing intrusive thoughts and fears of an animal attack. Miranda described seeing things that weren’t there. She saw shadows and dots and heard whispers...