How to spot mental health concerns in teens

By:
Bend Health
5/31/2024
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As a caregiver, identifying signs of mental health concerns in your teen can be challenging and confusing.

We all know that the teenage years can be a rollercoaster of emotions, and experiencing some stress and worries is completely normal. But it’s important to be able to notice when your teen is struggling, so that’s why the team at Bend has put together common signs of mental health issues.

Common signs that a teen is struggling

Every person is different, so above all else, take notice when you see any changes in yourteen and keep the conversation surrounding mental health open and ongoing.

Here are signs and patterns to keep an eye out for:

Changes in mood and emotions.

  • Persistent sadness, hopelessness, or feelings of emptiness
  • Irritability, mood swings, or sudden outbursts of anger
  • Overwhelming anxiety or excessive worrying
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyed activities
  • Emotional numbness or a lack of motivation

Behavioral changes.

  • Withdrawal from social interactions or isolation from friends and family
  • Significant changes in sleep patterns, such as insomnia or oversleeping
  • Noticeable changes in appetite or weight, either significant increase or decrease
  • Using alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism
  • Engaging in risky behaviors or displaying reckless behavior

Cognitive and perceptual changes.

  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things
  • Experiencing persistent intrusive thoughts or excessive worry about specific topics
  • Paranoia or a distorted perception of reality
  • Excessive preoccupation with body image or appearance

Physical symptoms.

  • Frequent unexplained physical complaints, such as headaches or stomach aches
  • Sudden changes in energy levels or unexplained fatigue
  • Physical symptoms without a clear medical cause, such as unexplained pain

Impaired functioning.

  • A decline in academic performance, missing deadlines, or poor concentration
  • Struggling to meet responsibilities or maintain relationships
  • Neglecting personal hygiene or appearance such as not brushing their teeth or hair
  • Difficulty managing daily tasks or exhibiting disorganized behavior

Suicidal thoughts or self-harm.

  • Expressing thoughts of self-harm or suicide or engaging in self-destructive behaviors. Take these behaviors seriously and reach out to a mental health professional right away.

If you notice any of these signs and symptoms in your teen it’s important to seek health from a mental health professional. If you notice that your teen is exhibiting these symptoms, know that you are not alone and that support is available to you. Try to listen to their experience without interrupting or judging, and ensuring them that you will be there for them every step of the way.

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