Parents, having teenagers always has its challenges. Parenting a teen means more arguments, mood swings and teens often challenge the rules and limits you put in place. It is challenging and difficult to deal with but what happens when your child’s behavior is more than just the typical teenage behavior? You start feeling overwhelmed by their behavior and you don’t know what to do. Maybe you don’t even want to notice if there is a problem at all, but things start snowballing with issues at school and other social situations.
“Does my teen have a mental health issue?,” you may finally reflect.
How do you know, as a parent, that your teenager is possibly dealing with a mental health issue? If you are reading this, wondering if your child might be depressed, have an eating disorder, anxiety, or any other mental health issue – keep reading. There is a fine line between the typical teenage years and a teen that has a mental health issue and it is important to be able to recognize the signs that your teenager might be dealing with more than just the typical teenage years.
One of the first major behavioral changes amongst teens is their mood. The typical teen’s hormones are changing as well as their body, which makes for a lot of emotions and mood swings. All of that is fairly normal, but what parents need to look out for is any talk of suicide, any signs of depression quick changes in their personality, and anxiousness. If your teen refuses to follow any of the rules you have set in place or their behavior is causing a lot of issues between other family members, that is usually a sign that there may be a mental heal issue that your teenager is dealing with.
A more specific behavior to look out for is a change your teen’s appearance and what they wear. Throughout one’s teenager years, you go through a lot of change and teens are always wearing the latest fashion trends, however any extreme changes in appearance could be a sign of a deeper issue. It could be extreme weight gain, weight loss, constantly wearing long sleeves due to self-harm, or even lack of hygiene.
Perhaps you think your teenager is abusing substances. Some teens will try alcohol or drugs, in which case you should have a talk with them about the impact of these drugs and how to set proper boundaries. However, if you notice that your teen has a dependency on alcohol or drugs and catching them often, they may have a substance abuse issue and that could be tied to a mental health issue.
There are many different types of mental health issues so I recommend that if you recognize signs of a certain mental health issue in your teenager, do more research on that specific issue because there may be signs that haven’t been mentioned in this post. The National Institute of Mental Health is a great resource that has a lot of information on different mental health issues. Another suggestion I have is that there are different free, online assessments that you can take as a parent to help you distinguish whether your teen is displaying behaviors beyond a typical teen behavior. Click here for a free online teen behavior assessment.
If you are confident that your teen has a mental health issue, do not hesitate to find a therapist or a psychiatrist to take them to. It is important with any mental health issue to get it under control as soon as possible because you don’t want it to get any worse. If you need help finding a therapist, psychologist, or counselor there are many different online directories out there that you can use to find a good fit. Psychology Today and GoodTherapy.org are both good directories you can use.
Mention your experience in the comments on how you managed spotting issues below: