If you think back on your teenage years, it likely brings back memories of drama between friends, misguided anger, and confrontations with your parents. In many teens, moodiness is chalked up to biological and social changes that are part of the growing-up process.
However, these aren’t the only causes for moodiness in some teens. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly half of all adolescents experience a mental health disorder at some time in their lives.
As a parent, it’s important to recognize the differences between a temporary phase and the symptoms of a mental health issue. So, in this blog, the providers at Generations Family Practice in Cary and Raleigh, North Carolina, share some common signs that your teen could be struggling with their mental well-being.
Stay in tune with your teen’s moods and behaviors
The teen years are filled with lots of changes — physically, emotionally, and socially. The best thing you can do to monitor your teen’s mental well-being is to stay in tune with their behaviors and moods.
You can help be their mental health advocate by looking for things like:
- A lapse in their schoolwork or grades
- Episodes of persistent sadness or anxiety
- A sudden disinterest in friends or social interactions
- Uncharacteristic outbursts
- Changes in eating habits
- A disinterest in things they normally enjoy
- Problems sleeping or concentrating
- Expressing thoughts of suicide
It’s crucial to be on the lookout for signs such as these, because mental health issues are not rare among teenagers. In fact, anxiety disorders, which include phobias, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder, affect nearly 32% of young people ages 13-18.
And, when it comes to depression, about half of all teens who suffer from it are at risk for suicide. And, while it’s possible for a teen to just have anxiety or just depression, about half of children diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Seek professional help for unusual behavior
It can be tempting to wait and see if your child bounces back to their usual self. After all, it may be difficult to admit that your teen is struggling with their mental health. However, you know your child better than anyone else, so go with your gut. If something seems off, there’s probably something to it.
If your child expresses thoughts of suicide and is in a crisis situation, contact your local suicide hotline for immediate assistance. If it’s not a crisis situation, but you’ve noticed some signs that your teen is struggling, contact us at Generations Family Practice. We’ll perform a physical exam and review your child’s medical history and family medical history.
Our providers will ask what you’ve observed and perform a psychological evaluation with your teen. Depending on their age, we may ask them to complete a questionnaire for self-assessment, but we’ll also have a conversation with them about their thoughts and feelings of what’s going on in their life.
Depending on what’s going on, we may order diagnostic tests, such as bloodwork and a urinalysis, to rule out underlying medical conditions, such as a hormonal imbalance or a nutritional deficiency, which can produce similar symptoms.
If you have concerns about your teen’s mental health, get an evaluation for them by booking an appointment online or over the phone with Generations Family Practice today.