It can be frightening for parents when they begin to see signs of mental illness in their teens. For instance, they might see signs of depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. In fact, many parents aren’t familiar with the names of illnesses, but they might notice that their teen is sad often, sleeping a lot, or can hardly concentrate. They might also hear that their teen is struggling at school or work.
Out of confusion or shock, as a parent, you might feel a whole host of emotions. This is completely understandable and expected. It’s important to remember that struggling with mental health disorder is challenging for anyone. Teens are especially susceptible to feeling inadequate, embarrassed, anxious, or scared as their bodies are already going through a large list of changes. Trying to understand and manage mental health issues on top of everything else can feel overwhelming. Consider the following tips to support you, your teen, and the rest of your family during this experience.
Analyze the Behavior: Recognize the Signs and Symptoms of Mental Illness
If you believe your teen is suffering from a mental health condition, examine his or her behavior to determine whether you should seek professional help. Sure, there is going to be moodiness with adolescence, but there’s no harm in having your teen assessed by a mental health professional.
Here’s a list of warning signs and symptoms that can help recognize a teen’s mental health disorder:
Inability to Focus
One of the most common signs of mental illness in teens is an inability to focus and concentrate for an extended period of time. They may struggle to complete tasks or assignments, and their grades might suffer as a result.
Teens with mental illness may also exhibit changes in sleep habits, including sleeping too much or having difficulty falling asleep. This is a common symptom for anyone struggling with mental health.
Feeling Hopeless or Worthless
Other symptoms include feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, general apathy toward activities they used to enjoy, and
Withdrawing from Social Activities
School performance may decline as teens may stop attending after-school activities, sports, or even going to class. If a teen’s routine changes considerably where they are no longer socializing or going to school, that’s a big red flag.
Easily Angered or Annoyed
They may seem more irritable or even hostile than usual. Some teens may display physical signs such as unexplained aches and pains, stomach issues, headaches, or fatigue.
Talking about Death or Suicide
Suicidal ideation or expressing excessive feelings of guilt or self-hatred, impulsiveness, or behavior changes such as giving away prized possessions.
Engaging in Risky Behaviors
These in include drug use, defying their parents or other authority figures, getting in trouble with the law, or engaging in illegal activities.
Drastic Mood Swings
Teens who experience sudden fatigability following periods of high energy levels, followed by depression may be experiencing irregular fluctuations in brain chemistry. This is what typically causes many mental illnesses that affect mood.
Weight Gain or Loss
Teens who experience weight changes over a short period of time, or large shifts in eating habits may also be experiencing a mental illness.
This is not a complete list of symptoms for a teen struggling with mental health. Many of these symptoms overlap with other conditions, so it can be difficult for most parents to determine.
It is important for parents to stay actively involved in their teen’s life if they suspect a mental illness is present so that they can intervene promptly if needed. Providing a safe space where your teen can openly talk about what they’re going through can be extremely beneficial in helping them cope with the struggles caused by mental health issues.
Know it’s Not Your Fault
It’s easy for parents to want to take the blame when their teen is not well. It must have been something they did or a wrong decision that caused depression or anxiety. However, this cannot be further from the truth. Mental illness is no one’s fault.
Parents must remember that mental illness is a medical condition and is often beyond their control. It’s important for parents to keep in mind that while they are trying to help their teen, they also need to take care of themselves. Blaming yourself or your spouse can be damaging and can lead to stress, guilt, and depression.
It’s essential for parents to have open conversations with their teens about the illness without blaming them. Make sure your teen understands that there is no shame in having a mental health issue and that you love them unconditionally. Remind them that having mental health issues doesn’t define who they are as a person.
Reach out for support from family, friends, or mental health professionals. If needed, seek individual counseling or couples therapy to discuss the issues you’re facing as a family and how best to cope with them together. You don’t have to go through this alone. Joining an online support group for families dealing with similar challenges can be helpful too.
Remember that it’s normal for parents to be experiencing these struggles along with their teens. This doesn’t make you any less of a parent or make your child any less of a person either!
No one knows your child as well as you do. Parents should always listen to their gut instincts when it comes to their child’s mental health concerns. If they feel like something is not right, they should not be afraid to seek out a second or third opinion. This is especially important for those who are unsure of what is going on with their teen and need guidance.
It’s important to remember that if the first diagnosis doesn’t seem to fit, that doesn’t mean they are wrong about the issue at hand. It simply means that further evaluation is necessary in order to get a better understanding of what may be going on with their child. It may also be beneficial to look into different treatments in order to determine which one will best address help your teen.
Anxiety and depression can manifest differently in each teen, so getting more than one opinion can help determine the most effective treatment plan. Research suggests that having multiple opinions helps ensure accurate diagnosis and better outcomes overall, as each specialist has a unique perspective on the issue at hand.
When looking for second opinions, it’s important for parents to look for mental health professionals who specialize in treating teens specifically. This includes child psychiatrists, psychologists, or therapists from adolescent health centers. Additionally, it may be helpful to reach out to other organizations such as a trusted school teacher or counselors who may have more insight into how your teen is coping with mental health problems.
No one will go to great lengths to ensure your child’s well-being as much as you will. For that reason, trust yourself. Trust your instincts.
Mental health professionals know how to respond to psychological illness. You don’t have to manage your teen’s symptoms on your own. Get the help you need from a professional who knows what to do. You can also reach out to other adults you trust to discuss your worries and concerns.
It’s very important for parents to also take care of themselves when their teen is struggling with mental health issues. It can be easy for them to blame themselves and feel guilty, but it’s important to remember that this isn’t their fault. Parents should talk to other adults they trust and get help from professionals who know how to respond and help with mental illness. They should also reach out for support from family, friends, or mental health professionals like counselors or therapists if needed so they don’t have to go through this alone.
Seek Help as Soon as Possible
Half of those who develop mental illnesses show their signs as early as 14 years old. And, 75% of those who experience mental illnesses experience their symptoms by the time they are 24.
Mental illnesses can affect both women and men. However, the rates of diagnosis between genders differ. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders. This is often due to increased levels of stressors in their lives such as work or family responsibilities. Women also tend to experience greater psychological distress than men with the same mental health diagnosis.
Men, on the other hand, tend to be diagnosed more frequently with substance abuse and antisocial personality disorder. Men may also be less likely to seek help for a mental disorder due to stigma or cultural beliefs that discourage vulnerability and openness about emotions. As a result, they may experience greater difficulty in recognizing symptoms early on and receiving an accurate diagnosis or help at our residential treatment center for teens and young adults.
Gender roles can have an influence on how each gender experiences mental health issues differently. For example, women may feel pressure to conform to societal expectations for success in motherhood or career which lead to feelings of inadequacy or anxiety when those goals are not met. Men may commonly face issues of masculinity that can contribute to feeling isolated. Men typically feel like they must “tough it out” when faced with internal distress caused by mental health conditions instead of seeking help from others.
These differences need to be considered when understanding how teens cope with their own mental health struggles, depending on their gender identity or assigned sex at birth. There are early signs that indicate whether a mental illness is in development. It doesn’t hurt to have your child assessed.
Become somewhat of an expert on the disorder your teen experiences so that you’ll know what to avoid, what to take on, and how to better your teen’s life. This will help you work through your own difficult feelings and prepare you to understand your teen’s mental illness.
Parents looking to find help for their teen’s mental health issues have a variety of resources available to them. Professional help from psychiatrists, psychologists, or therapists can be found through adolescent health centers and other organizations that specialize in helping teens with mental health. Additionally, parents can reach out to local support organizations for advice and guidance.
Parents may also consider sending their teen to a residential treatment facility like Paradigm Treatment for more intensive care. This type of facility provides teens and young adults with an array of services such as individual and family counseling, psychiatric services, academic assistance, recreational activities, experiential therapies, and more. They are designed specifically with teens in mind and provide the structure and support needed for teens struggling with mental illness.
As you and your teen progress through the stages of recognition, assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery, there will likely be many mental health challenges and unknowns to face. In the course of it all, you might feel like you want to throw your responsibility out the window, you might hand over your instincts and knowledge to a professional whom you trust only to be disappointed. Whatever the challenge, don’t give up. Your teen’s well-being is much too important.
Because your teen needs your help, it’s best to gather the best resources and determine the treatment options you have available. Stay calm and take good care of yourself. Mental illness is nothing to be afraid of. It’s an illness, like any other, that needs attention, care, and tenderness.
At Paradigm Treatment, our compassionate staff works tirelessly to ensure each teen receives the best possible care. We are dedicated to providing individualized treatment plans tailored specifically to meet the needs of each teen in our program. Our team is made up of experienced professionals who understand the unique needs of teens struggling with mental health disorders and provide compassionate support that is effective yet respectful of boundaries. We focus on creating a safe environment where teens can feel comfortable sharing their struggles and making progress toward recovery. For immediate help reach out to our admissions team today!