In order for teenagers to be their healthiest physically and most alert, it’s important to encourage things like a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, getting plenty of exercise and limiting exposure to media use. And now, a new European study has found that adolescents with high media use, reduced sleep and low levels of physical activity make up an “invisible risk group” with a high prevalence of psychiatric symptoms.
Researchers queried a group of 12,000 teens ranging from 14-16 years old from 11 European countries on a variety of health risk behaviors and psychiatric symptoms. The teens were divided into three risk groups, depending on their answers: high-risk, low-risk and invisible-risk. The results of the study are published in World Psychiatry. Teens in the invisible-risk group had the behaviors like reduced sleep and excessive media use, which are generally not associated with mental health problems. But over 30% of teens in that risk group also had a high level of psychopathological symptoms.
The study is the first to estimate the overall prevalence of a bigger range of risk behaviors and lifestyles and their association with symptoms of mental illness. And while the behaviors listed above alone are not cause for concern, if your teen is exhibiting these behaviors and experiencing any symptoms of depression or other mental issues, contact your local mental health therapist for a consultation.