The teenage years are an emotionally charged period for the entire family. For some teens, however, this phase is when mental health issues first surface. This can mean that even loving, observant parents may find themselves unable to recognize the signs that their child is struggling with a mental health issue.
The need for extreme privacy
Teens are undergoing massive hormonal and physical changes that can make them moody, irritable, and anxious. Since mental health issues can also present with these same behaviors, parents will need to be watchful for additional clues in order to recognize the early warning signs of a mental illness issue.
While normal teenage behavior includes pulling back a bit from the family and needing more privacy as part of their preparation for becoming an adult, teens that seem to have lost all interest in being with their family and friends may be experiencing the first symptoms of teen depression or another serious mental health problem.
The signs of teen mental health issues
In addition to pulling away from family and friends at an extreme level, teens who are experiencing mental health issues may offer several other clues. These include:
- developing problems with school attendance or suddenly experiencing problems with maintaining their normal school performance level
- losing interest in favorite activities, such as sports, music, or a favorite hobby
- experiencing major changes in attention to personal care, hygiene, and diet
- discovering issues with substance abuse or evidence of participation in a dangerous activity, such as cutting and other forms of self-mutilation
- noting instances of seeing things that are not there or hearing voices
Parents should also be watchful for growing incidences of physical health complaints, such as headaches, stomachaches, and back or muscle pain, and unexplained changes in energy levels and sleeping patterns.
While any of these symptoms, as well as many others, can be a sign of a developing mental illness issue, it is important to also remember that they can also occur for other reasons that are unrelated to mental health.
The path for diagnosis and treatment
Parents who find themselves faced with teen behavior that causes concern about a developing mental health issue will want to proceed with caution in seeking diagnosis and treatment. The first step will to be rule out any medical causes by scheduling a complete physical examination for the teen with their medical care provider.
If no medical issues are found, yet the worrisome symptoms continue to be noted, discussing the situation candidly with a mental health services professional is the next step in getting your teen the help they need to resume a more normal life. For more help, contact a company like Comprehensive Behavioral Health Associates Inc today.