Mental Health and Your Teen

The teenage years are not easy ones. As parents, we can remember our own time as teens and empathize with our teenage children — but we can’t live their lives for them. We also have to recognize that we cannot prevent them from facing tough challenges.

Still, there are things that we can do to help our children during this exciting but difficult phase in their lives. We can try to listen and understand, for one thing. We can also act as a resource they can draw on, reminding them that we can always support them and can help them get the care they need for difficult conditions and issues like depression.

If your teen is suffering from depression, don’t ignore it. Depression is more than just a case of the blues, and anxiety is more than just nervousness. Believe your child, and play an active role in helping your teen fight his or her symptoms and condition.

Depression, anxiety, and teens

Mental illnesses and conditions are remarkably common among teens, experts say. Unfortunately, diagnosis and treatment are not. Incredibly, 80 percent of children and teens with anxiety issues and 60 percent of children and teens with depression are not getting the care that they need, says the Child Mind Institute.

That’s very bad news, because fighting a condition as serious as depression or anxiety demands the help of a mental health professional like a psychiatrist or psychologist. If you think that your teen may be suffering from a mental health issue, don’t dismiss the warning signs. Recognize the problem and seek help for your child.

How to know if your teen is depressed

Depression manifests as sadness or emptiness, and it can have a ripple effect that disrupts a person’s entire life. Symptoms of depression can include seemingly unrelated things like poor sleep and even headaches.

As a parent, it won’t necessarily be easy for you to notice these things. But you can pay attention to your child’s behavior and try to analyze the situation. Look for warning signs like problems in school, drug or alcohol abuse, or withdrawal from social interactions. If your child appears to have lost interest in things that once brought him or her great joy, then there is a good chance that they may be suffering from depression.

How to know if your teen has anxiety

Anxiety can manifest as fear and feeling of stress, but — much like depression — it can also have physical symptoms like dizziness, headaches, and even difficulty breathing. Your child may share these symptoms with you, but if they don’t, you should keep an eye out for signs that your child is struggling with tasks, social situations, and other things that you might otherwise expect them to handle with ease and grace. If your child seems to be “freaking out” about things that you don’t think should be so scary, don’t chalk it up to nervousness — it could be anxiety.

Getting care for your child

Serious mental health conditions require serious professional help. Just as you’d bring your teen to the doctor if they were to get ill or injured, you should head to a mental health professional with your teen if you spot signs of depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness.

You have powerful inpatient options, too. If your teen is in need of serious help, work with your mental health professional to place your teen in one of the many respected teen residential mental health facilites that you’ll find in your area.

Teen mental health problems are, unfortunately, quite common. But we do have ways to help our teens as parents, and you should be as proactive as possible about your child’s mental health.