Do you have a teenager who is moody, cranky and difficult to deal with? You’re not alone. Teenagers, and even pre-teens, go through a period of development called puberty during which significant physical and hormonal changes take place.
For some teens, this is challenging to deal with and the rush of hormones can lead to frustration, anger and irritability. To some extent, this is normal, although unpleasant. But when are your teen’s mood swings no longer indicative of a phase of puberty, but of a serious mental health condition instead?
It’s really difficult to tell if your teen is experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition rather than simply going through puberty. You as a parent have to be able to recognize when these negative moods and feelings persist and know when to seek professional help.
Some behaviors to watch out for include:
- Increased engagement in risky behaviors. This can include risky sexual activity, drug abuse, strong rebellion, law-breaking and physical violence. These behaviors are not appropriate for any age category and should be addressed.
- An identity crisis. While it’s normal for teens to be learning more about who they are and exploring their gifts and talents, if your teen has little or no sense of value, purpose or hope, then this might be a sign of a mental health condition.
- Constant worrying. Of course, being a teenager can be stressful. But continual and irrational worrying could be an indicator of anxiety, rather the regular teen stress.
- A significant change in behavior. This can include dramatic decrease in academic performance, sudden change in friend groups, loss of interest in regular activities or shifts in sleep and eating patterns.
If you observe any of these patterns in your child, it might be time to seek professional help. Even if there is no mental health diagnosis present, these behaviors are serious and should be addressed.
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