You’re noticing some behavioral or mental health changes in your teen, and you want to figure out whether these changes are simply part of growing up or whether they might signal a more pressing issue. You’re right to worry.
Even before the global pandemic struck, rates of mental health issues like depression and anxiety among younger demographics were on the rise in the United States, increasing by 24% and 27% from 2016 to 2019, respectively.
As of 2020, 8 million kids ages of 3-17 were diagnosed with either depression or anxiety, and another 5 million kids experienced behavioral issues.
To help you make the first steps toward determining whether your teen may be in trouble, our team of behavioral and mental health experts here at LaSante Health Center wants to review a few of the more common signs.
Understanding mental and behavioral health issues
Before we get into the potential signs of mental health or behavioral health issues, we want to emphasize that these are very broad categories. For example, mental health issues not only include depression and anxiety, but post-traumatic stress disorder or other stress disorders.
Behavioral health, too, includes a wide range of issues, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and substance use disorders.
With this in mind, the signs that we outline below are general, as each behavioral and mental health issue has unique symptoms. Our goal here is to provide you with a few red flags that something may be troubling your teen.
It’s perfectly natural for your teen to lose interest in activities that they now believe they’re too old for, such as playing board games with the family. But if your teen is losing interest in activities that you know they enjoy, such as playing video games with friends, going to the movies, or whatever your teen used to enjoy, this could be a worrisome sign.
More often than not, the door to your teen’s room is closed as they seek out more privacy. No cause for alarm there, but if they’re isolating every moment that they’re not obligated to be somewhere else, such as school, this could be problematic.
Teens are social and if your teen is avoiding friends in favor of being by themselves, this could be a sign of something bigger than just wanting a little more privacy.
Poor school performance
Whether grades are slipping or your teen is getting into trouble more, poor performance at school is a classic sign of behavioral or mental health issues.
Engaging in risky behavior
It’s tough to tell when kids are merely pushing the boundaries and experimenting versus acting out because of a mental health or behavioral issue. Smoking, taking drugs, drinking — it’s one thing to try these once or twice, but another to engage in these behaviors often.
Anxiety or panic attacks
One sign that’s hard to hide are anxiety or panic attacks. During these attacks, your teen might be short of breath and not be able to focus very clearly.
Of course, there are many other signs of mental or behavioral issues that we haven’t covered here, but these are a good start. Ultimately, any sudden or significant changes in their attitudes or behaviors are worth investigating.
If you have questions about mental and behavioral issues in teens or you’d like to schedule an appointment with one of our experts, please contact our clinic in Brooklyn, New York, today. We serve the Flatbush and East Flatbush, Crown Heights, Park Slope, Little Haiti, Little Caribbean, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens communities.