Adolescence is an exciting and challenging part of life that everyone goes through. The journey through the teenage years is often rough, but some teens struggle through this phase of life as my move through middle school and high school. As a parent, you may find it difficult to determine if your teenager is simply going through normal bouts of emotional behavior or if you should seek teen counseling.
There are certain warning signs that you should never ignore. It is important to address any mental health issues sooner rather than later, so your teen doesn’t carry burdens into adulthood without help. Below is a list of indicators that your teenager is in need of professional mental health treatment.
Signs Your Teen Is Struggling
While your teenage child will occasionally act out or go through bad moods, mental health problems could be an underlying factor to their behavior. Teenage mental illness goes far beyond feelings of melancholy. Here are some behaviors that may mean a teen is dealing with severe emotional pain:
- Problems in school: Poor attendance, dropping grades, or increased frustration with homework may indicate a teen is dealing with low energy or having a hard time concentrating due to depression.
- Alcohol or drug abuse: Teens with mental illnesses often use drugs or alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate or numb the pain.
- Running away: Teenagers who talk about running away or actually run away from home are likely depressed and crying for help.
- Self-esteem issues: A teen who expresses that he or she feels ugly, shameful, or unworthy is probably going through depression.
- Prolonged internet use: It’s common for teens to use their smartphones or computers to communicate with friends or consume media, but excessive use may indicate they are trying to escape from their problems and isolating themselves.
- Reckless behavior: Mentally ill teens may partake in dangerous actions, including binge drinking, unsafe sex, or reckless driving.
If you feel that your teen is struggling with one or more of these signs, your teen could be experiencing a form of depression.
Symptoms of Teenage Depression
Along with the changes in behavior listed above, there are clear symptoms of clinical depression that your teen may be showing, including:
- Anger, irritability, and hostility.
- Frequent crying.
- Losing interest in activities.
- Sudden pains or aches.
- Lack of motivation.
- Changes in eating habits.
- Withdrawing from friends and family.
If your teen is showing these symptoms continuously and unrelentingly, he or she is probably dealing with more than just hormones and stress.
How You Can Help
Mental illness has lasting, damaging effects if left untreated, so you should reach out to your teen if you have concerns. Even if you’re not quite sure that your teen has depression, the troublesome emotions and behaviors you’re witnessing should be addressed. You should have a loving and non-judgmental conversation with your teen about the symptoms you’re noticing and why you’re worried. Focus on listening instead of lecturing to show your teen that you truly care.
Supporting your teen and helping him or her make healthy lifestyle changes may help, but sometimes it’s not enough. If your teen is struggling severely, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Learn how mental health services from Mazzitti & Sullivan Counseling Services can help your teen cope with depression and recover.