I am worried about my teen….How do I know if they are struggling?

Being a parent of a teenager today is unbelievably challenging. The ways things have changed with technology have allowed teenagers to be social with everyone and anyone at all times. Along with the positive changes come some difficulties and worries. Teens are now not only being bullied in person but now over text messages and social media. So what are you to do as a parent? How do you keep balance and boundaries and know if your teen is in trouble? I wish there was one specific answer to be able to tell you parents out there. Unfortunately, every teen handles challenges differently and therefore has different behaviors that would reflect that.

Sometimes it’s difficult for a parent to determine if their teen is going through “normal” teen challenges or if they are really struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental health difficulties. During teenage years it is natural for the teen to be striving for more independence and isolating themselves from their family unit. It is normal for a teen to be moody, act out, have an increase in appetite, and sleep a lot. As parents you want to remain flexible and understanding to the challenges that your teen may be going through. However, there are some signs to look for if you are noticing some changes in your teen that you are concerned about.  Some of the signs to look for to determine if your teen may be struggling with depression include irritability and anger. A teenager acting out and being defiant can be a sign that they are struggling emotionally and don’t know how to handle it. Some other symptoms include: sadness, crying, withdrawal from friends, isolation, not enjoying activities they used to enjoy, change in appetite, change in sleeping habits, lack of energy, feelings of guilt, drop in grades, and thoughts or talking about death or suicide. So how do you determine if your child is suffering from depression or just going through teenage problems? Keep in mind sudden changes in your teen’s behavior. Notice how long and how severe these signs and symptoms seem to be in your teen. If your teenager is not acting like him or herself, or you are concerned and cannot tell if these are “normal” teenage challenges or your teen is going through something more severe, please contact a professional counselor to perform a consult. Here at Original Path Counseling Centers we offer individual and group support to teens and their parents.

Written By : Amanda Woodard, MA, LPC

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