Call it the teen trifecta: poor sleep; media use; and lack of exercise. Put it together and it all takes a toll. According to a new study, it can all lead to psychiatric illness in teens.
As reported by Anthony Rivas, teens who spent their nights using various forms of media also tended to lose sleep and time spent exercising. This trio of behaviors may point to a teen’s risk of psychiatric illness.
“It’s not uncommon for teens who drink, abuse substances, or have behavioral problems to be perceived as having a high risk of mental health problems,” writes Rivas. “But although these behaviors tend to be more obvious, there’s another group of behaviors that are ‘invisible’ to those who aren’t paying attention.”
Adults who see teens partaking in these activities “do not generally perceive these behaviors as particularly harmful for reasons for concern,” the researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden wrote. “Nevertheless, the high- and the invisible-risk groups have a very similar prevalence of depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, and suicidal thoughts.” Their results appear in the journal World Psychiatry in the article titled “A newly identified group of adolescents at “invisible” risk for psychopathology and suicidal behavior”.
“As many as nearly 30 percent of the adolescents clustered in the ‘invisible’ group that had a high level of psychopathological symptoms,” said Vladimir Carli, of the National Center for Suicide Research and Prevention of Mental Ill-Health at the Karolinska Institute, in a statement.
The study involved over 12,000 adolescents throughout 11 different European countries. They were asked about various risk behaviors — drug/alcohol use, sleep time, missing school — that have been linked to psychiatric symptoms. Once their answers were organized, it became clear that besides the high- and low-risk groups, there was also the “invisible” risk group.