Strong mental and emotional health develops from childhood. When negative behavior or emotional problems begin, a parent is sometimes reluctant to seek help until an issue spirals out of control. The earlier a parent confronts a problem, the quicker and more likely a teen will make positive improvement. Receiving therapy for mental wellness can provide several benefits for your teen.
Things such as moodiness and even a certain amount of emotional struggles are normal when navigating childhood and adolescence. It's important, however, to distinguish between normal growing pains and problems that may need professional help. In order to take a proactive approach, watch for signs that your child or teenager may need therapy.
Is Increasingly Worried, Anxious, or Irritable
Occasional sadness, anxiety, or irritability is normal, especially for teenagers that are going through emotional and physical changes. Constant worry or anxiety, especially when there isn't an obvious reason, is not normal. The CDC states that along with therapy, physical activity, sufficient amounts of sleep, and a nutritious diet all play important roles in dealing with anxiety and depression. Even if your teen doesn't express worry or anxiety, there are often subtle signs you shouldn't ignore:
• Increasingly irritable and upset over minor things
• Rarely smiles or laughs
• Often pacing or wringing hands
• Considerable increase or decrease in sleep
• Increasingly isolated from family or friends
Suddenly Has a New Set of Friends
As a child grows and develops, it is not always unusual to move into new circles of friends. This is especially true when teens start new activities such as joining a sports team or a music group. Many new friendships are normal if your teen starts a new school or your family moves into a new neighborhood. If there aren't any new changes and your teen suddenly has all new friends, this is something you'll want to pay attention to.
Exhibits Extreme Changes in School Work or Activities
A few changes from time to time are normal, especially when making new adjustments such as moving from middle school to high school. Classes are often more difficult and a temporary change in grades is normal. A solid B student who is suddenly failing several classes is not. Changing a few activities and taking on new interests is a normal part of development. A sudden lack of interest in all activities is cause for concern. When extreme changes occur in several classes or many areas of a teen's life is when a parent may need to take action.
Has a Self-Destructive Behavior
Parents should never ignore any type of self-injuring behavior. According to Mental Health America, self-injury is often due to confusion, anxiety, distress, or sadness. While parents should take seriously and immediately address any type of self-injury, they should exhibit patience and listen carefully to how a teen feels. It is also essential to find the root causes of this type of behavior instead of addressing symptoms. This is why it's important to seek out professional help. While this is not an exhaustive list, the following are several types of self-destructive behavior a child or teen may engage in:
• Physically cutting, burning, or harming their body
• Driving erratically or at extremely high speeds
• Misusing or abusing drugs and alcohol
• Taking dares or challenges that are excessive and dangerous
• Exhibiting eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa
• Getting in trouble with the law
Engages in Substance Abuse
Substance abuse can include more than alcohol and street drugs. Teens and even young children may misuse prescription drugs or engage in steroid use. Young people may also use inhalants that could include everything from paint thinners and glues to butane in lighters and even medical anesthetic gases. The following are signs that your teen may have a substance abuse problem.
• Frequently feeling ill, having headaches or the "flu"
• Constantly tired and lethargic or exhibiting high amounts of energy
• Engaging in secretive conversations or making secret calls
• Breaking or completely ignoring curfew
• Stealing or asking for more money than usual
• Becoming more isolated and spending time away from family
• Avoiding eye contact when questioned about behavior
Recently Experienced a Traumatic Event
The death of a friend or a close family member is difficult enough for an adult and is often overwhelming for a child or teen to process. A child may exhibit a variety of different behaviors after experiencing a difficult event. A child may experience flashbacks or ongoing nightmares. Some youngsters may act out and exhibit behavior problems while others suddenly become withdrawn and sullen. They might experience posttraumatic stress disorder after any number of traumatic events that occur in their lives:
• Experiencing physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
• Witnessing a violent crime or neighborhood shooting
• Surviving a serious car accident
• Having friends that put them in a vulnerable position or bully them
• Losing their home or experiencing a natural disaster
• Experiencing the death of a close friend or family member
Talks Excessively About Death or Suicide
A young person may occasionally ask or talk about death. It is usually not healthy when a child or teenager is continually talking about or obsessing over death. A parent should take seriously any threat regarding suicide and not brush it off as a phase the child or teen is going through. Even if your teen says it in a joking manner or uses it as a threat out of anger, it's necessary to address this type of behavior immediately.
Fortunately, counseling and different types of therapy programs can help teens work through the problems they're struggling with. Strong Therapy and Community Support offers therapy and counseling services that meet the specific needs of each individual. Our therapists have different backgrounds and different areas of expertise. They provide high-quality mental health treatment that includes individual therapy, group therapy, and counseling. You can schedule appointments, check in, and communicate with a therapist all through a secure online portal.
If your child or teen is struggling, calling Strong Therapy is the first step to recovery. Contact Strong Therapy today for more information.