Does my teen need to see a counselor?
The teenage years can perhaps be best described as a time of physical, emotional and social tumult. Changes happen so rapidly in adolescence, that neither child nor parent really knows how to cope. For example these signs might be more noticeable when parents are trying to help their teen cope with a divorce.
Teenagers often become more detached from their family during this time. In fact, parents become less important in their teenager’s eyes, as their life outside the family develops.
While this is a normal and healthy part of development, it is not an easy place for parents to be. Sometimes it can be difficult communicating or connecting with your teen because they don’t feel you understand. They must be able to let go of their children while still recognizing the warning signs of adolescent depression. This can be difficult because some moodiness is normal during the teenage years.
Here are 5 signs that your teen may be suffering from atypical depression and asking for help.
1. Mood Swings
As I just mentioned, thanks to the cocktail of hormones suddenly surging through a teenager’s body, it is quite normal for them to have mood swings. So how can you tell what’s normal and what is a sign of mental illness? You have to trust your parental instincts here. You know your child better than anyone and should be able to recognize any significant shift in mood. Particularly look for mood shifts that seem to have no root cause.
2. A Change in Behavior
It is normal for a teenager to have a certain kind of behavioral change. Normal changes include challenging authority a bit more and claiming their independence. What’s not normal is for your child to suddenly start presenting as a different person to you. This can be a sign of depression.
3. Substance Abuse
Most teens experiment a bit with drugs and alcohol. But you should see red flags if your teenager is chronically abusing substances and coming home drunk or high on a fairly regular basis. It is especially important to act immediately if your family has a history of substance abuse.
Those teens who are experiencing significant emotional turmoil may choose to take their emotions out on themselves by cutting, hitting or hurting themselves in some other manner. Parents are understandably worried or confused when they learn that their child has self harmed.
5. Talk of Suicide
While teenagers can definitely be prone to drama and overreacting to events, no parent should ever ignore talk of suicide. With teen suicide rates on the rise, any mention or attempt should immediately result in professional help. You can read more in our blog post about responding to a teenager’s comments about suicide.
Responding to the need for help
If you or someone you know has a teenager who is showing one or more of these signs and would like to explore treatment options, please be in touch. Aspire Counseling is a counseling center in Columbia, MO with several therapists who see teenagers struggling with these concerns every day. Help is available and we are happy to discuss the pros and cons of bringing your child in to see someone.