As parents of teens, sometimes it is hard to determine what could be a sign of a serious problem and what is a normal part of growing up.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a nationwide survey of students in grades 9 – 12 found that 16% of students reported considering suicide, 13% created a plan, and 8% reported a suicide attempt in the year preceding the survey. About 157,000 adolescents between the ages of 10 and 24 receive medical care for self-inflicted injuries across the US. How do you know what is a sign of a serious problem and when to seek professional counseling for your teen?
Many teens suffer from mild depression on and off throughout adolescence, but when it persists for long periods of time or is coupled with self-esteem issues, anxiety, or tumultuous life events, it may be time to seek professional help. The Center for Young Women’s Health recommends monitoring depression signs for two weeks, and if symptoms do not lift, it is more than just sadness or mood swings.
- Substance Abuse
Substance abuse, an issue on its own, is often seen in conjunction with other mental health issues such as depression and low self-esteem. Your adolescent may be trying to cope with these issues by self-medication with recreational drugs, which will only make the issues worse. Anytime substance abuse is present, it is time for counseling.
- Eating Disorders
Signs of eating disorders are changes in eating habits, hiding food, binging and purging, or making excuses not to eat. Like many other health issues, eating disorders are often the result of other mental health problems, and can cause physical health issues as well.
- Angry Outbursts
An inability to control their temper or having angry outbursts over small matters are signs of larger mental health issues. It is usually a cover for emotional pain and depression, but may just be a sign that your teen has not learned healthy outlets for emotions. Either way, professional counseling may have great benefits for your adolescent in teaching them healthy coping mechanisms.
Having a social life is important for being healthy emotionally for everyone, and especially adolescents. If your teen is isolated from his or her peers, it could lead to depression and self-esteem issues. If they are isolating themselves intentionally, it could be a sign these mental health issues are already present.
- Physical Health Problems
Stress, depression, and anxiety can cause stomach problems, high blood pressure, and heart problems. When mental health issues are left untreated, they can cause severe physical health problems as well. These symptoms of emotional issues shouldn’t be ignored.
Signs of self-harm are often the biggest warning signals parents should watch out for. Whether or not a suicide attempt has taken place, self-harm is indicative of severe emotional health issues and professional counseling should be sought after.
If you think your teen’s mental health might be at stake, seek help right away. Mental health is just as important as physical health and should be taken seriously.