How to Tell if This is Normal Teen Behavior or if it is a Problem
Teenagers are known as moody beings. They’re portrayed in movies as sleeping a lot and being mad at the world. On the other hand, a happy, loud, laughing group of teens is a normal sight to see. Certain behaviors make parents wonder if their teen is okay, or if there’s a problem. The media reports on teen depression and suicide, making parents more worried than ever. How do you know if a teen’s behavior is normal or if it’s a problem related to depression or other mental illness?
Teens and Depression
Emotions and hormones run rampant during the teenage years, making it difficult for teens to feel confidence and belonging. Teens worrying about school, how they fit in, friends, family life, upcoming college decisions, and other pressures, all while their bodies and minds are still developing. Many kids feel like outsiders, especially if they’re bullied. Even those deemed attractive, intelligent, and popular teens can experience a lack of self-esteem or deep hurt and dip into depression.
Parents find it difficult to determine if their adolescent is going through a phase or needs an intervention. Certain patterns of behavior can indicate depression, especially if they’re long-lasting. Look out for these patterns in your teen:
Teens and Mental Illness
Teens can suffer from anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or a host of other conditions. A teen engaging in behaviors dangerous to themselves or others, who are considering suicide, or are listening to imagined voices in their minds need immediate help.
How to Respond
Let your teen know that you’re there for whatever they need. Start conversations with them about their mental health. If they don’t want to talk to you, give them resources to view online or services to call for help. Tell them what doctor they should make appointments with for assistance. Ask for the help a friend or relative that they’re close to; sometimes someone other than a parent can get through to a teenager. Most of all, consult a mental health professional. Your teen’s physician should be able to recommend a practitioner.
If your teen is talking about imminent suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255 or a similar service to get specific advice on how to handle the crisis. Make sure your teen has access to the number as well. Don’t ignore the signs or hold back or you may lose them.
Mental Health Treatment
Mental health professionals include counselors, psychologists, psychotherapists, and psychiatrists. Treating depression and other mental health conditions usually involves counseling or psychotherapy to deal with thoughts and emotions. Equally important are medications, prescribed to meet the specific illness. It’s important for teens who are put on medication to keep up with taking it as prescribed and not making changes without consulting their psychiatrists.
Sometimes, the biggest problem to get over with teens is having them accept treatment without embarrassment. Assure them that it’s common to get counseling and treatment. Respect their privacy by not discussing their problem or treatment with anyone other than immediate family. Facilitate getting to appointments privately until they decide to reveal it to others.
For teens to recover, it’s good if they can be on good sleep schedules and can get regular exercise. Help them to be involved in enjoyable activities with positive, supportive people they enjoy. Ask what they need to get back on track at school or work and support it. All these actions will help your teen and may just save a life.