Many of us have fond memories of our youth, but few of us would deny that the teenage years can be as difficult as they are memorable. For teenagers, changes are everywhere in the world and within themselves. New challenges and new sources of stress appear even as teens are forced to decide what kind of person they’re going to be.

All of this can affect teenagers’ mental health in various ways. That includes what might be the single most basic measure of mental health: happiness. Nobody can be happy all of the time, but teenagers can face unique challenges to their sense of joy, purpose, and contentment. The problem is only getting worse, experts say, as statistics show that rates of teen depression are on the rise.

Health And Happiness

It goes without saying that mental health and happiness are intimately connected. But what many fail to realize is that physical health, too, has much to do with things. Physical health issues, symptoms, and outcomes can have a profound effect on their mental health counterparts and, therefore, on a teen’s happiness. Teens who are overweight are more likely to suffer from depression, for example, a reality that has to do with bullying and body image issues but also with the relationship between physical and mental health and the fact that being unhealthy can simply make a person feel lousy all around.

That’s why becoming and staying happy as a teen has so much to do with physical health. A teen who eats right and exercises regularly will enjoy the benefits of being healthy and feeling good.

This is not to say that losing weight is the best answer to body image issues, which are primarily mental health problems; losing weight is not always healthy, and there are plenty of ways to accomplish it in unhealthy ways. The real lesson here is that healthy living, which includes but is not limited to healthy eating and regular exercise, can improve a teen’s physical health and make them healthier and happier.

Not everyone enjoys healthy living, of course. And while the benefits of an hour at the gym almost always outweigh the unhappiness one might feel at the prospect of actually going to the gym, there’s no reason why teens can both get healthy and enjoy doing so. A healthy hobby that involves exercise can be a great way to accomplish this, point out the experts at a dance school in Hillsboro, OR. Regularly attending dance classes, going on hikes, or working out with a high school or college sports team (whether at the varsity or club level) can be great ways to have fun while staying in shape.

Professional Care

Happiness isn’t as easy for some people to find as it is for others. In fact, for some people, feeling good can be a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Depression is a very real mental health condition that can lead to feelings of despair, apathy, exhaustion, and more. And, tragically, it is very common among teens.

Depression—as well as other mental health disorders, such as anxiety disorders—is best treated with the aid of experts. Just as teens need the help of doctors to treat illnesses and broken bones, so do they need help with serious mental health conditions. If there is any reason to believe that depression, anxiety, or addiction might be a part of a teen’s mental health picture, then it is vital to turn to a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. Talk therapy, medication, or a stay at a teenage residential treatment center could be in order—quite likely, some combination of the above may be best.

Being happy as a teen is possible, but happiness isn’t just bestowed upon lucky people. Just as often, it is earned by those who face challenges in their lives. Living in a healthy way and getting the necessary care and support can give teens happiness they did not know was possible.

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