Teenagers innately operate from an emotional standpoint. This is primarily due to the fact that the pre-frontal cortex, which is the area of the brain that reigns rational thought, executive planning, and impulse control, is not yet fully developed. Therefore, teenagers are forced to react to internal and external stimuli using the amygdala, which is the area of the brain that is directly associated with impulsivity, emotions, aggression, and instinctive behavior. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain that “mental disorders among children are described as serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, causing distress and problems getting through the day.” Research has found that one teen out of every five teenagers has a diagnosable mental health disorder, in the United States. Many teenagers struggle with emotional instability, also known as emotional dysregulation. Emotional dysregulation is a term used within the mental health field to denote irrational, poorly modulated emotional responses. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that emotional regulation plays a central role in the mental health treatment of teenagers.
Emotional regulation is defined as “the process by which individuals influence which emotions they have, when they have them, and how they experience and express their feelings. Emotional regulation can be automatic or controlled, conscious or unconscious, and may have effects at one or more points in the emotion producing process.” Emotional regulation helps teenagers learn to experience strong emotions while simultaneously reducing the intensity and impact of their emotions to avoid reacting impulsively. Verywell Mind explains that young people who are adept at self-regulating tend to be able to:
- Act in accordance with their values.
- Calm themselves when upset.
- Cheer themselves when feeling down.
- Maintain open communication.
- Persist through difficult times.
- Put forth their best effort.
- Remain flexible.
- See the good in others.
- Remain clear about their intentions.
- Take control of situations when necessary.
- View challenges as opportunities.
A teenager’s capacity to regulate their emotional state and emotional reactions can directly impact every facet of their life and greatly inform treatment outcome. Researchers have found that self-regulation skills are tied to a range of positive health outcomes such as enhanced resilience to stress, increased happiness, and better overall well-being.
For Information and Support
Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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