Being a teenager is such a difficult time. You’re going through so many changes and your emotions are all over the place. So, it’s only natural for teenagers to have mood swings and get upset sometimes, and all teenagers will act out from time to time. However, mental health problems are becoming more common in teenagers and it’s important that you are able to spot the signs.
So many parents miss the signs of mental health issues because they put it down to normal teenage behavior and they don’t know how to distinguish between behavior they should be worried about and the things that all teenagers do.
If you are struggling to read your teenager, these are some of the behaviors you should be worried about.
Distancing Themselves From Friends
Teens always want to spend time with their friends. When they feel disconnected from the people around them, it can be a sign of depression. Teens might start spending less time with friends and they may even stop responding to calls or texts. It’s very common for people to distance themselves from their social circles when they are depressed, and the isolation only makes their mental health problems worse.
In some cases, it might just be that they’ve fallen out with friends and everything will be back to normal in a few days when they all forget about it. But if you notice that they are distancing themselves from everybody and spending lots of time alone, that’s a cause for concern. Especially if they used to be a very social person.
Alcohol and Drug Abuse
It’s not uncommon for teens to try alcohol or drugs, but if they are abusing either substance it could be a sign of depression. Some teenagers like to experiment with substances because it allows them to escape their problems and feel better temporarily. Unfortunately, using alcohol and drugs in this way quickly leads to issues with addiction. If you can catch it early and find treatment for them while they are young, you can prevent any long-term addiction problems. It’s also important to have open conversations with your teenager about these kinds of things. A lot of parents make the mistake of assuming that their child will never get involved in alcohol or drugs so they never talk about it and that only leads to more problems.
Sudden Changes To Performance At School
Teenagers are very good at covering up what they are really feeling because they want to avoid talking about their emotions. So, when they start performing badly at school, it’s important that you investigate the reason for this. If your child used to get top grades and all of a sudden they are failing every class, there is probably something else going on. Their mental health may be suffering and this makes it harder for them to concentrate or they might not like their school. Not every child is going to be a straight A student, so if your teen needs some extra help, that’s fine. But you should be concerned if their performance at school changes suddenly for seemingly no reason.
Constantly Seeming Anxious Or Worried About Things
It’s not uncommon for teenagers to stress about things, but if your teen seems constantly anxious or worried you should take notice. It could be that they are just worried about normal things like exams coming up or problems with friends. But it may also be a sign of anxiety disorder. If you’re noticing that your teen is always on edge, speak to them about their worries and see if they need help with their anxiety.
Poor Sleeping Patterns
People who are suffering from mental health issues often have trouble sleeping. It’s very common for people with depression to wake up during the night and find it difficult to fall back asleep again. Some teenagers may also sleep excessively in an attempt to avoid their problems, which is another sign of depression. As well as noticing changes in their sleeping patterns, you should pay attention to how they act when they are awake too. If your teen has lost interest in everything and they seem constantly tired and lethargic, that could be a cause for concern too.
This one is often missed because it’s a stereotype that teenagers sleep a lot. This might be true, but if they’re spending all day long in bed or staying up all night, that’s not normal teenage behavior.
Knowing when your child’s behavior is abnormal is so important if you want to protect their mental health. If you spot any of these signs, you should seek help for your teenager right away.