Some of us may still cringe when we think back to the days of braces, acne, and high school drama. Between puberty and hormones, teenagers go through emotional rollercoasters on a near-daily basis.
Moody teens are normal, as their bodies aim to figure out what exactly is going on inside of them. However, there are a few warning signs that their behaviour is more than what appears on the surface.
All parents want is for their children to grow into happy, healthy adolescents. So, what do you do when you find your teen struggling more than usual?
Thankfully, neither you nor your teen is alone in this battle. Therapy for teenagers is not only effective but encouraged by mental health advocates worldwide.
Let’s go over the basics of counselling for teenagers and what concerning behaviours to keep an eye out for.
Each teen is different and your child may have a different set of needs, struggles, and triggers than the next. In general, teen counselling will look like working together with a therapist to develop a plan to address your child’s mental health, as well as improve their overall well-being.
Using methods of talk therapy, a trained mental health professional will aim to educate your child on how to manage difficult emotions, empower them to overcome obstacles, and understand what situations may be making their mental illness even worse.
In addition, various forms of mental health treatment for teens can look like:
Raising a teenager is rarely a walk in the park. However, there are a few warning signs to look out for so you can get your child the help they need sooner than later.
Appetite changes are incredibly common in teens with mental health issues. For teens suffering from anxiety, the overwhelming feelings of stress and worry can diminish their appetite. For further reading, we explore the signs, symptoms and treatments of eating disorders.
On the other hand, teens struggling with depression may have lost the desire to eat in the first place.
Depression can also manifest in teens as overeating or ‘binge eating’. This is caused by a neurological feeling of comfort that can be provided when eating foods high in sugar, or carbohydrates. Excessive weight gain or loss is a clear sign your teen may need therapy.
A study conducted in 2019 by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that up to 43% of Australian teens experiencing psychological distress were likely to engage in using substances such as drugs or alcohol. If you find that your teen has been participating in these kinds of activities, their mental health may be to blame. Many teens, and adults alike, use substances as a way to numb what they feel on the inside.
Do you feel as though your teen suddenly becomes irate when you even say the smallest thing to them? Or, perhaps, your family pet was in the way and your teen suddenly acted out of character and screamed at his or her dog. This kind of anger, misdirected anger, often stems from internal battles going on just below the surface. When teens are struggling and in pain, they often show it through explosive outbursts that seem to “come out of nowhere”.
One of the most obvious signs your teen should be seen by a therapist is sudden drastic changes in mood. If your normally bubbly teen has been lethargic and downcast for a lengthy period of time, it may be due to a mental illness such as depression. It’s incredibly important to talk with your teen right away if you feel they may be depressed, as depression rarely resolves itself without professional help.
Or, perhaps, your teen has had trouble sleeping, sitting still, or seems to excessively worry about situations they never did before. This could be a sign that your teen is struggling with anxiety and needs help from a counsellor to overcome their symptoms.
If your teen has always been engaged and consistent with their school work, yet has recently begun to slip, they may be struggling with their mental health.
One of the most common symptoms of depression in teens is their lack of desire for anything, including their education. If you find your teen's grades have significantly decreased, they may need therapy to get them back on the right track.
As a parent, you know your child better than anyone ever has, or ever will. This could be called a near superpower, as moms and dads tend to notice even the most subtle changes in their child before the rest of the world does. If you have a sense that your teen just isn’t themself, it’s always best to approach the situation (lightly) in order to catch their pain before it escalates even further. If you feel as though your teen has suddenly stopped eating, has been using drugs or alcohol, is angry more often than not, or has begun to fail their classes, therapy just may be the way to go. Don’t ignore your intuition, a parent always knows. If you need support, help is just one click away.
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