Adolescence is difficult for almost everyone. Teens are dealing with changing bodies, searching for their identities, and navigating a social landscape on a scale they haven’t faced before. But sometimes, it’s more than normal teen angst. It’s important for parents, teachers, and loved ones to understand that many teenagers are struggling with mental health issues that are all too common.
Anxiety and Depression
Teens tend to be secretive and spend a lot more time in their bedrooms than they used to. You may miss the signs of anxiety and depression at first. It’s not just moodiness you should watch out for; anxiety and depression often show up in behavioral changes.
Your teen may express a reluctance to go to school or start bringing home poor marks. They might not call their friends anymore or take part in school activities. Frequent complaints of physical ailments such as headaches or stomach aches can also be signs of anxiety or depression.
Body Image Issues
Every day, teens are bombarded with unrealistic media images of celebrities and influencers that seem to have perfect bodies. And, peer pressure to live up to these images can be monumental. Many teens develop body image issues that can be dangerous.
Changes in eating habits can be a red flag for more serious issues. If your child is skipping meals or obsessing about exercise, this could indicate a problem. Talk to your teen about why comparing themselves to others can be harmful.
The teenage years are times when kids try new things and are faced with new challenges. It’s not unusual for them to experience failure or feel inadequate. But when these fears grow out of proportion, they may develop low self-esteem that can stay with them for their lifetime.
Teens can sense false flattery, and they often won’t open up if you ask directly about their problems. Watching movies together can be a good way to open up a conversation about how people may cope with difficulties. Talking about the characters’ motivations and actions can lead you to the bigger questions.
When a teen’s mental health issues go unrecognized, more serious problems can develop. Untreated mental health issues can interfere with their lives and affect their futures. But if a caring parent, grandparent, or other adult notices the signs and makes an effort to help, it can make all the difference.
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