We want to protect and support our children, and despite the fact that we know what life can be like, we want desperately for them to have a better life than we had. We want our kids to succeed and be happy, and yet every day we hear frightening stories of teens who are depressed and getting into trouble, even becoming suicidal.
Fortunately, there are some warning signs that can help you tell the difference between normal teenage emotional growing pains and a serious problem that your child needs outside help to solve. Knowing what those signs are can make all the difference in your teen’s life.
Nearly every teenager goes through a period of minor depression at some point. Their lives are in constant upheaval, their hormones are surging in ways they don’t expect, their brains are still developing, and they aren’t always ready to deal with the feelings they experience. All this can definitely make any teen feel dark at times.
This means it’s perfectly normal for your teen to feel sad, lose some interest in some activities, or feel anxious about social situations. They can be angry and exhausted at times and frequently present in a “touchy” mood.
You need to get your teen help, however, if you see them always in an irritated and depressed state of mind and unable to enjoy anything that they once took pleasure in. You teen needs help if their social anxiety leads them to withdraw completely or to suffer from panic attacks. Another warning sign is if they start talking persistently about suicide or murder, or if they seem to always feel utterly hopeless.
Teens are in a stage of life where they want to experiment. They’re getting to know their own bodies and are more interested in the bodies of others than they ever were as young children. Some experimenting is fine, and you may even be able to help them navigate these issues while still allowing them some freedom to explore.
What is not fine is when they start abusing themselves or others. If your teen has a chronic substance abuse problem, it’s time to get help. If your teen becomes fixated on the idea of suicide or murder, or if they begin to self-harm, this means the load of emotional weight they are carrying has become too great. It’s time to get them some help.
As said before, it’s not uncommon for teens to experiment. This includes not just experimentation with their bodies but also with their boundaries. They want to test the rules that all the authority figures in their lives have set, whether it’s your rules or the rules of society in general. For most people, this is fine, and you won’t have to get a good criminal defense attorney or visit their child in jail.
For some teens, however, this desire to test boundaries can coincide with strong feelings of depression or with struggles to control themselves and what’s happening to their bodies. Substance abuse can make this even worse. Where you need to be concerned is if you see your child acting out in ways that threaten your family or others. If your teen is constantly talking about hurting other people, bullying kids at school, or threatening you or younger siblings, it’s time to get them some help.
A good teen treatment center can give your child the help they need to manage all that life is throwing at them during this difficult and vulnerable time in their lives. But they also need your help: your help to watch them, keep an eye on the signs, and get them the help they need if it’s time.