How Do I Know If My Teenager Has A Mental Illness?
Is this normal teenage behavior? An instance of teenage angst or rebellion?
Caught between childhood and adulthood, teenagers are struggling to find their identity and become comfortable in their own skin.
As part of this struggle, it is common for teens to exhibit out-of-the-ordinary behaviors, flex their want of independence, become moody, and etc.
How do you know if there is something more going with your teenager? How do you know if your teenager has a mental health disorder?
If you are concerned about your teen or adolescent, if you think they may be facing a serious mental health concern, the more YOU know and the more YOU understand what to be on the lookout for in their lives, the better equipped you will be able to get them the help they need.
Know the Warning Signs
The following behaviors could be signs your teen is struggling with a mental health issue:
- Mood Swings — Look for drastic mood changes, signs of sadness, withdrawal from people and activities, and take careful note when any of these signs last in duration more than a few days, causing difficulties in relationships at home and/or at school.
- Intense Emotions – Look for strong emotional responses, feelings of being overwhelmed, unfounded fears, and extreme worry, especially if these emotions begin to interfere with routine activities.
- Difficulty Concentrating — Look for signs your teenager is struggling to focus, listen, follow instruction, or to sit still. Typically, these signs become evident in relation to performance in school, reflected in your child’s grades.
- Behavioral Changes — Look for dramatic changes in your teen’s behavior or personality, out-of-control anger and/or aggression, arguing, fighting, or expressed desire to hurt either themselves or others.
- Weight Loss — Look for sudden and dramatic changes in your teen’s appetite, eating patterns and unexplained weight loss.
- Physical Harm — Look for any deliberate self-injury or self-harm such as cutting or burning. Any expression of self-harm, suicidal thought or ideation should be taken very seriously.
- Substance Use — Look for any indication your teen is attempting to ‘self-medicate’ with alcohol or drugs of any kind. Substance use can contribute to an increase in pre-existing mental illness symptoms.
Concerned about your teenager?
If you think your teen is struggling with a mental health issue, we can help.
Just having a diagnosis—putting a name to the struggle—can start your teenager on a path to healing and health.
What Kinds of Mental Health Concerns are Common Among Teens?
Adolescents can suffer the same kinds of mental health issues as adults, but their symptoms may look different. While a depressed adult, for instance, may seem sad, a depressed teen may seem more irritable and angry.
Teenagers aren’t always able to put their feelings into words, or to adequately articulate what they’re experiencing.
As such, a proper diagnosis—identifying your teen’s particular struggles—is key to getting the proper treatment they need.
Teens in Crisis
How prevalent are mental health concerns among teens and adolescents today?
The National Alliance for Mental Illness offers these sobering stats:
- 1 in 5 children ages 13-18 have or will have a serious mental illness
- 20% of teens ages 13-18 live with a mental health disorder
- 11% of teens have a mood disorder
- 10% of teens have a behavior or conduct disorder
- 8% of all teens have an anxiety disorder
Additionally, studies indicate:
- 50% of all cases of mental illness begin by age 14 and 75% begin by age 24
- The average delay between onset of symptoms and intervention is 8-10 years
- Approximately 50% of students with a mental illness drop out of high school
- 70% of the teens in juvenile justice facilities suffer with a mental illness
What Can You Do to Help Your Teen?
If you are concerned about your teenager’s mental health, the first step is to seek help.
Many people begin with their child’s pediatrician or the family’s primary care physician.
Honey Lake Clinic’s Adolescent Treatment Program for Girls between the ages of 13-17 is an excellent first call to make if your daughter is struggling. Our team of caring and experienced mental health professionals are here to help!
As the first and only Christian residential adolescent program of its kind, HLC’s Hazel House welcomes girls into a warm home and family setting; in other words, not your typical sterile-feeling, concrete box facility. Let us give you a tour of our program, the grounds, our staff, therapy modalities, and amenities, all demonstrating the Honey Lake Clinic difference.