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10 Mental Health Warning Signs with Teens

Mental Health in Teens, Warning Signs for Teens, mental health warning signs in teens

According to the CDC, more than a third of students in high school reported poor mental health during the pandemic in 2021. 

That number probably isn’t surprising as everyone had a tough time during the pandemic. What’s really troubling is that number increased in 2022, with 44% of high school students saying they felt sad or hopeless persistently throughout the year. 

Teenagers often experience pressure from various aspects of their lives, such as school, friends, work, and sports. Amidst the changes in their bodies and personalities, prioritizing mental wellness becomes crucial. Parents may find it challenging to connect with their teens, given the evolving nature of their relationship from childhood. Amid the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s easy for parents to overlook signs of mental health concerns. Keep an eye out for these top ten indicators that your teenager might be grappling with mental wellness issues.


Teenagers are known to be moody, and with all the hormonal changes going on in their bodies, it’s to be expected. But, those who are suffering from depression or another mood disorder will go through some extreme mood swings. If your teenager seems to be even more moody than normal — or more moody than the typical teen, it may be a warning sign and it may point to some form of mental illness. You should speak with a doctor about your concerns if you see euphoria, aggressiveness, or impulsive behavior.


If you start to see your teenager not taking any interest in their appearance or taking care of themselves, it could be more than laziness. You may notice that they stop brushing their teeth or only take showers once a week. Parents often overlook this sign as typical teenage behavior, but it could be more than that. It could signify depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders. Having an open and honest relationship with your teen will help to mitigate lying or behaviors that could be considered dangerous.


Recent studies have shown that when it comes to sleeping, teenagers are wired differently than the rest of us. They tend to stay up later and want to sleep later than most.  When a teen takes this type of behavior to an extreme,  it can  be cause for concern. You may notice your teenager having difficulty staying awake throughout the day because they were up all night. They may seem overly fatigued and lose interest in their everyday activities. Teenagers need an average of eight to ten hours of sleep per night to function properly throughout the day. If you notice your teen getting much less, or sleeping considerably more, it’s time to talk about their well-being with them and perhaps a doctor.


Being a teen is a lot to deal with — social life, academic pressure, hormonal changes and more. If you start to notice your child lacks motivation to the extreme, it’s a sign to speak with a doctor. Lethargy and lack of motivation could be a sign of an underlying condition, especially when it’s an intense change from their normal behavior. You may notice your teen sleeping all day or losing interest in something they used to enjoy.  These are things to watch out for to ensure your teenager has proper medical attention for all of their health needs.


There are pressures on boys and girls to look a certain way — particularly now as their world focuses more and more on social media “norms.” But, changes in weight — either excessive weight gain or loss — may indicate an eating disorder in youths. The National Eating Disorder Association reported that almost 50 percent of all girls and boys suffer from some sort of eating disorder. You may notice changes in the way they eat. For example, skipping meals, hiding food, or taking pills such as laxatives to try to lose weight are all red flags of an eating disorder. They may conceal food due to a need to eat in secret. It’s best to have an open relationship with your youngster to ensure they will talk to you about any concerns.


When a teen goes from getting straight-As to all Cs, it’s clear that there’s a problem. But, even more subtle signs of declining grades can be a red flag about your teen’s mental wellness. Your teenager has a lot to deal with daily — homework, fitting in at school, and body differences. These changes are entirely normal and not cause for concern. If you detect their grades declining, speak to them to find the cause. This sign, mixed with others on this list, is cause for concern regarding their mental health. It may be beneficial to rule out ADHD before moving on to other mental health issues, especially if grades decline more as the school year progresses.


If you have a teenager that’s usually very active but begins to notice they are missing sports practice or staying home when all of their friends are going out, it may be cause for concern. Teenagers that are depressed often lose interest in all of their normal activities and tend to stay locked up in their rooms. If you notice this happening to your teen, it’s time to speak with a doctor about your teen’s mental wellness. No one should struggle with depression or other mental health concerns when help is available.


If your teenager is normally a social butterfly but begins showing signs of avoidance, even with their own friends, it’s time to speak with a doctor. It’s common for people to hide when they’re suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders, and your teenager isn’t any different. Adults do this as well. Speak with your youngster to discover the reason behind their pullback. If they don’t know the reason behind their withdrawal or don’t want to talk to you, it is time to speak with a medical professional to help.


Teenagers seeking a way to escape reality may take drugs or other medications. Maybe they give in to peer pressure and want to be cool. Whatever the case, this behavior will only worsen their problems and lead to a substance abuse disorder. It’s important to lock all prescription medications away from their reach and talk to them about using drugs to avoid unfortunate circumstances like addiction or overdose. If you notice your teenager acting strangely, it may indicate an underlying problem. You should contact a doctor immediately to get them the desperately needed help.


Differences in how your teen acts, especially when it is drastic, are a big red flag. If you notice them talking about feeling worthless, it could be a sign of depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders. It may seem like they struggle with everyday life and begin withdrawing from the world. If you see these extreme changes, such as talking about death or witnessing cut marks, get help immediately. These drastic changes could lead to suicidal thoughts, which are dangerous at any age.


Our trained medical staff can help improve your teen’s mental wellness. From mental health issues to substance abuse, we have the tools and knowledge to help. Ask about a free assessment for diagnosis so we can start a personalized treatment plan for your teen. 

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