As our knowledge of the mental health field grows, so too does our understanding of the connections that exist between physical and mental health, including a number of ways in which supporting and addressing the physical body can contribute to and support mental health as well. For this reason, every teen entering treatment at Paradigm Malibu receives a medical evaluation as part of their initial assessment, in order to obtain baseline measures of their physical functioning, and overall level of systemic health. The teen’s treatment team, including psychiatrist, therapists, nutritionists, and other members, then use this information in order to include whatever necessary or helpful additions might be possible for supporting the teens’ most thorough and complete recovery possible.
A preponderance of evidence continues to suggest that physical health and emotional health are fundamentally linked. Adolescents living with emotional health issues are at greater risk of experiencing a wide range of physical health problems. Though the different correlations can include a number of different symptoms and relationships, one of the greatest factors at play is stress, which is, of course, a primary factor in nearly all Teen Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders. Prolonged and severe stress can create a number of negative health effects, including increased blood pressure, disturbed sleep patterns, disruption of proper hormone functioning, headaches, digestive difficulties, and lack of energy. Furthermore, the direct relationship between certain Mental Health Disorders and health effects is prominent as well. For example, Depressive illnesses are related to heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and various immune system related illnesses.
The reverse relationship is also true. It’s been shown that teens living with physical health issues experience teen depression, anxiety, and other emotional health complications, at more than twice the rate of those with no physical health concerns. In less common cases, emotional and behavioral health can even be adversely impacted by physical health issues of which teens and their families are unaware. One prominent factor among teens is their fluctuating hormone levels, which can have significant direct connections to their moods and general emotional state, even for a prolonged amount of time.
Therefore, in seeking to design and implement the most precise and individualized treatment plans possible, the first step must be to make the most precise diagnosis possible, being careful to take into consideration all different aspects that may be working as factors. Our thorough medical evaluation is an integral step of this process to make sure that we make all possible considerations in the teens’ treatment plans, and don’t overlook or miss any present symptoms or conditions. This medical knowledge and understanding can serve to help us treat symptoms and aspects of the illness thoroughly, but without over-treating. For instance, in teens with certain medical needs or conditions, there might be medications that could exacerbate the symptoms already present or perhaps not work as effectively. In other cases, we can implement a nutrition program to complement the teens’ medication, in order to help support any side effects or disruption that may be caused from the introduction of the new substance. And in still other cases, through the medical evaluation, we might discover that medical factors are contributing to the mental health symptoms, and therefore, take action to address the medical side of things in order to more thoroughly address the underlying issues at work.
Though from one perspective, the myriad factors and aspects at play in determining and treating a teen’s overall well-being can seem overwhelming, we see these avenues as exciting, in their comprehensive ability for us to address illness. The more factors and considerations we can make in diagnosis, the more possibilities we have in treatment, which allows us to design treatment plans that are individualized according to the teen. In working with teens during treatment to recover from and grow beyond their current struggles, we want to empower teens to be as capable as possible to make and sustain those positive changes, in every aspect of their lives. Encouraging, teaching, and supporting their physical health is one fundamental aspect of their overall well-being, and therefore, also a fundamental aspect of the treatment we provide.