Every parent knows what it’s like to be a teenager. Your emotions are all over the place, your parents are no longer “cool”, and all you want to do is fit in with your peers and succeed at school. This transitional stage is one of the hardest for children to go through and also one of the most difficult to parent through. Trying to decipher whether your teens are just going through typical “growing pains” or if they’re really struggling emotionally is by far one of the biggest challenges.
How do you know if your daughter is just being moody or if she’s suffering from bipolar disorder? Is your teenage son just distancing himself because that’s what tends to happen between teens and their parents, or is his depressed? Perhaps your child has been a bit self-conscious about their appearance, but could they be dealing with an eating disorder?
You don’t want to assume the worst, but you also want to be ready to be there for your teen if there is something going on. Though it can be hard to tell at times, there are changes in their behavior and appearance that could let you know your child needs help.
Trouble in School
Have you noticed that your child isn’t performing well in school anymore? This could be a sign that they’re overwhelmed emotionally. Mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, ADD, and ADHD can affect one’s ability to concentrate, remember, plan, stay organized, and execute common tasks. When this happens, it becomes nearly impossible for your child to focus on their studies, let alone formulate positive and healthy relationships with educators and their peers.
Teenagers are bound to “push the limits” as they learn how to identify with themselves and others. However, if these behaviors become extreme or really out of character for your teen then this could be cause for concern. You may notice that your teen is more aggressive than usual. They may become very isolated or distant at times. In some instances, teens even start participating in reckless behavior like the abuse of substances. If they have begun such behavior, getting them adolescent treatment near Santa Barbara or a nearby rehab facility is a must.
Changes in Eating and Sleeping Habits
Growth spurts, raging hormones, busy schedules are all factors as to why teenagers sleep a lot. However, if you start to notice their sleep patterns are off, they could be suffering from mental illness. If your child never seems to have much energy, is experiencing head or body aches, or starts sleeping for more than 10 hours a day or less than 8, you may need to have a talk with them.
Eating habits are another thing to consider when deciding whether your teen may be suffering from mental illness. If they suddenly start overeating or not eating enough, you notice fluctuations in their weight, or they obsess over food (or their weight), they could be suffering from depression, anxiety, or even an eating disorder.
There’s no denying that it can be difficult to determine whether you’re dealing with typical teenage behavior or if your child is suffering from a mental illness. While showing one of the signs mentioned above may not be cause for alarm, if you’ve noticed two or more of these behaviors or patterns with your teenager, it’s best to act. Start by having an open and honest conversation about what’s going on and if necessary get them help from a doctor, therapist, or rehab center.