Top Red Flags in Teenager Behavior: Parent Guide

Distinguishing red flags in teenage behavior is difficult, considering the natural emotional and physical changes that occur at that age. So much so that the warning signs often go unnoticed until it is far too late.

However, there are tell-tale cues that can help you identify and react appropriately to behavior that should not be overlooked, even for a teenager. Here is a complete guide for red flags in teenage behavior that could indicate a deeper issue of mental health problems and substance abuse.

This will also equip you with methods and approaches you can utilize to help a teen struggling with mental health or substance abuse.

Type I and Type II

Typically, Bipolar Disorder is classified in two ways. An adolescent with Bipolar Disorder will be diagnosed as having either Type 1 or Type 2. The first type of Bipolar, also known as Bipolar I, includes one or more distinct periods of mania, and could also include a mixed period. For instance, if there is a period of mania, there might also be features of depression and if there is a period of depression, there might also be features of mania. The second type of Bipolar is characterized by at least one episode of hypomania and at least one episode of depression. This diagnosis can be made only if a teen has not ever experienced a period of mania.

To be clear, hypomania is an episode of that is less severe than a full episode of mania. For instance, mania is an experience of euphoria, high energy, impulsivity, irritability, and less need for sleep. However, hypomania is an elevated mood that is not quite full mania but does include increased energy, less sleep, clarity of vision, and strong creativity. According to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the standardized text used by psychologists and therapists to diagnose their clients, “in contrast to a Manic Episode, a Hypomanic Episode is not severe enough to cause marked impairment in social, educational, or occupational functioning or to require hospitalization.”

Bipolar will develop in about 1-5% of children and adolescents. When Bipolar Disorder develops in childhood or early adolescence, it is known as an early-onset form of the mental illness. In these cases, it is often more severe with frequent mood swings and physical sickness. It’s true that Bipolar Disorder is difficult for anyone at any age, but its challenges become more acute for teenagers.

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Studies show there is perhaps nothing more important for preserving a child’s psyche and mental development than getting the proper sleep. Therefore, irregular sleeping patterns could indicate preexisting mental health conditions or substance abuse.

In addition, any disruptions of natural sleeping patterns can cause a child to develop a mental health condition in itself. Help your child or teen preserve long-term mental health by encouraging healthy sleeping habits early. They’ll be glad you did in the long run.

Teens are at the age where they care most about what others think of their appearance, whether they admit it or not. As a result, they will often dress their appearance up the best they can to project the best version of themselves. That’s precisely why if you notice your teenager lacking personal hygiene, it’s time to take notice.

A teen who exhibits a lack of care for personal appearance or upkeep is an indication of how they think of themselves. That is to say, a teen who lacks hygienic characteristics may have low self-esteem or even be depressed. That is also the case when it comes to upkeeping their surroundings like their room or locker.Upon noticing these characteristics, reach out to them in a way they will be receptive to and let them know you care.

Mood swings are normal for a teenager to some degree. However, any extreme or disturbingly unnatural shifts should be mentally noted and attended to. Don’t let this behavior slip without a second thought. Take mental notes, be mindful of such shifts, and consult the appropriate physician at your discretion.

These mood swings could be a silent cry for help from a teenager who doesn’t know how to express their mental or substance struggles. You can answer that cry by reacting appropriately to their mood swings without anger to avoid provoking them further. Your response to these red flags in teenage behavior could make or break how receptive they are to your instruction and care.

Teens, like any human being, can have contrary responses to hardships and mental health conditions. That’s why one teenager can exhibit mental health condition battles in their lack of appetite as others do with overeating. This is an opposite reaction to a similar underlying condition. Lack of appetite, changes in eating habits, or overeating can be a sign of hiding a deeper and darker battle within.

While many teens naturally keep to themselves, isolating themselves too much from friends and family is a definite red flag. Social withdrawal is normal to some degree, but excessive isolation is a different matter. This is especially worrisome if they withdraw from activities they would normally enjoy or elect to be alone instead of spending time with loved ones.

This often means they should be spending less time alone and occupy their thoughts with more productive activities. This is especially true if their seclusion is rooted in depression or other mental conditions.

Anxiety, while normal in moderation, is a red flag when in excess. Excessive anxiety is often very apparent in body language and behavior. Elevated anxiety levels are perceivable through several inherent nervous ticks. Tremors, nail or lip-biting, leg or hand tapping, and looking antsy, are just a few observable indicators of unnatural anxiety.

It can also reveal itself through persistent scratching or other habitual nervous practices. Keep an eye out if your child displays anxiety in their behavior as excessive anxiety is usually difficult to conceal.

While isolating from friends altogether is a tell-tale sign of deeper problems, so is an unnatural shift in friendships. Such concerning friendship changes will be accompanied by a drastic shift in the personality of the friends they choose. What that means is to be concerned if their new friends have reclusive, unmannerly, or undesirable traits, unlike their former bonds.

Learn to deal with those situations with the proper Paradigm-based approach and understanding mentality. Take a point to know and care about your child’s friendships as their friends are always indicative of the type of lives they will lead. As a wise proverb says, “You show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”

Failing grades or lackluster academics is a very evident sign of underlying struggles with mental health or substance abuse. When all other signs escape recognition, this is one of the key red flags in teenage behavior to keep an eye on. If you notice your child’s grades are slipping, don’t go straight to a therapist. Approach the situation with a caring heart. Use discretion to ascertain if and when taking their struggles to a medical professional is the right move.

Be mindful of any red flags in teenage behavior that exhibit low confidence or self-esteem, especially on a routine basis. These could be insightful clues of a deeper problem like depression, mental health, or addiction disorders. All of these are serious issues that could have fatal consequences if left untreated. Reach out to a mental health specialist if you suspect your child could be suffering from mental health or addiction disorders.

We all get bumps and bruises on occasion. However, any signs of cuts or bruising could be a silent cry for help. Teens will often cause themselves pain due to an inability to express the inner pain they are suffering. These self-harming marks have very telling signs, not just in appearance, but in the efforts they make to conceal these acts.

Therefore, be aware of your teenager wearing longer sleeves or clothing that may cover self-inflicted wounds. Be mindful of this especially if it causes an uncharacteristic shift in wardrobe.

Perhaps one of the most telling red flags in teen behavior is being swift to anger. This is not simply the same as mood swings, but rather more specifically related to anger emotions. Teens with underlying substance abuse or mental health problems will often be more irritable at seemingly insignificant disagreements or disputes.

If you notice such easy irritability in your teenager, it is vital not to greet anger with anger. Instead, respond caringly and consult the appropriate professional at your discretion. The wise old proverb, “A soft answer turneth away wrath” often rings true when dealing with an individual with abnormal anger levels. If nothing else, it won’t make it worse than if you were to fight anger with more anger.

If you suspect your teen is secretly using drugs, the best place to look is directly in their eyes. Red eyes are the most evident indication of substance abuse. Not only are eyes the window to the soul, but they can also reveal if your child is using drugs. Not even eyedrops can permanently erase the evidence of drug use, as they do not remove dilated pupils that occur when under the influence.

When life happens, sadness is a natural response. However, a persistent state of sadness is a dangerous fast track to depression and other mental health conditions. Keep a wary eye on any extended periods of sadness as it may be a sign that something is wrong.

How Can Paradigm Help You Deal with a Struggling Teen?

Paradigm is a renowned resource for helping parents handle teens with underlying mental health and substance disorders appropriately. We pride ourselves in being a blueprint parents can follow to help their children accept their condition and begin the healing process. Here are just a few of the many ways Paradigm can be your greatest resource to help you and the family recover together.

Consulting the various tips from our blog resources page is a good place to start for dealing with a troubled teen. We understand every teen requires a unique approach, therefore various perspectives from our cornucopias resources can guide you. Bear in mind, that all of our research blogs are only efficiently applied in direct conjunction with receiving professional treatment.

There’s no getting around the fact that all struggling teens need some form of professional therapy. At Paradigm, we believe the only way to achieve lasting results in therapy is to personalize your treatment in the most unique way. Understanding your child’s and family’s struggle in their own words is the most intricate asset to help doctors chart a successful recovery path.

Through all this, doctors help the parents understand the nature of their child’s condition and disorders. This newfound understanding helps doctors train you proper techniques to handle a teen struggling with addiction or mental health.

Nobody is left feeling neglected throughout the process of our family-oriented treatment programs. We provide equal loving and whole-hearted support by helping you all heal together as a family. This rare level of support mends family relationships and makes them stronger with a foundation of open-ended honesty.

Paradigm is Your Model Treatment for a Better Life

Our state-of-the-art individualized treatment programs are the pattern other generic facilities fail to mimic. It takes a family atmosphere with sympathetic-hearted physicians who care to magnify treatment efficacy. You’ll know you made the right choice the moment you reach out to Paradigm’s unparalleled team of compassionate specialists.

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