How to Tell if Your Teenager Needs Therapy

teenage therapy

If you’re wondering whether your teen may need therapy or not, these tips may help. (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

One of the hardest things for any parent to admit is that their child has a problem that they are not equipped to help them solve.  After years of checking for monsters, bandaging boo-boos, and helping with homework, it can be difficult, overwhelming, and even scary to acknowledge that your child has a mental health problem and you don’t know what to do.  But what we, as parents, don’t understand is that there is something we can do; get them the help they need to overcome whatever challenge they are facing.  The key is to understand when it is time to call on the cavalry, to know when our teenagers problems have gone beyond our ability to assist.  Here are some tips for determining when it is time to seek mental health services from a provider.

1.     Red Flags

If there is one thing that every parent should know to watch for it would be these red flags:

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2.     Lifestyle Changes

Unfortunately, the need for help is not always as obvious as the red flags listed above.  One of the more subtle changes that can signify a serious mental health issue is significant lifestyle changes.  For example, a previously happy, popular daughter stops spending time with friends or drops out of activities.  A son, who has always been an A student, starts getting D’s and F’s.  Teens that are in trouble may also experience changes in eating habits and sleep patterns.

3.     Acting Out

While it is normal for teenagers to be rebellious and to push limits, teens who are dealing with mental health issues may take these behaviors to an unhealthy and even dangerous level.  Teens who run away, skip school repeatedly, remain away from home for days without permission, act promiscuously, or engage in illegal activities may need more than just a stricter parent or serious consequences to change their behavior.

4.     Extreme Changes in Mood

Several mental health conditions can cause changes in a teenager’s mood.  If teens are showing common signs of depression, rapid mood swings, withdrawal, self-loathing, or rage, they may need the assistance of a mental health practitioner.

5.     Traumatic Event or Loss

Trauma and loss impact all of us, even teenagers and sometimes recovering or dealing with these kinds of issues requires the assistance of a professional.  Any traumatic event can cause immediate and long-term mental health issues which need to be treated as early as possible.  Significant losses like the death of a loved one, the loss of a home, or a divorce can be challenging to deal with and may require professional health to move past.

6.     Your Child’s Request

Sometimes teenagers know they are struggling and reach out for help in healthy ways, like asking to see a therapy or making suggestions related to getting help from someone.  Don’t disregard this kind of request.  Honor your teenagers concerns for their own wellbeing and help them find a mental health practitioner that can address their concerns.

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