4 Warning Signs of Mental Health Problems to Watch for in Your Teen | Dr. Jeff Nalin, Psy.D.

Teens often deal with serious mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, they tend to avoid reaching out for help due to embarrassment or because they think that other people will not understand. When teens do not receive the treatment they need, they are at risk for other problems such as drug and alcohol addiction. This makes it increasingly important for you to be alert for these warning signs that your child may be dealing with a mental health issue.

Declining Academic Performance

When a teen is struggling emotionally, they may suddenly give up on things such as doing their homework and studying for tests. This is because they may be unable to see the importance of continuing to do their best. Skipping class and getting in trouble at school are additional signs that your teen is having difficulty handling their emotions.

Spending More Time Online

Teens sometimes turn to the internet to take their mind off of their problems. They may also seek out other teens online who can understand what they are going through. Sadly, this can quickly become a dangerous situation if your teen connects with negative influences or begins to develop an internet addiction.

Changing Their Outward Appearance

Teenagers are quite adept at showing the world how they feel through their clothes, makeup and hair. While most teenagers experiment with trends, you should look into the potential for mental health issues if your teen suddenly makes extreme changes such as shaving off their beloved hair or always wearing long sleeves and pants even in the heat of the summer. Unexplained weight gain or loss is another change in their appearance that warrants concern.

Fluctuating Mood Swings

Mood swings are fairly normal during the teen years, but you should be worried about major shifts in your teen’s mood that simply do not make sense. For example, a teen who is dealing with bipolar disorder may sleep for days and suddenly become super hyper without warning. Alternatively, drug abuse generates highs and lows that may be noticeable in your teen’s behavior. While many teens swing from happiness to sadness depending upon life events, it is troublesome when mood swings occur without any obvious triggering factor.

When your teen begins having mental health problems, early treatment gives them the best chance of recovering before they do major damage to their health or life. While many of these warning signs may be normal during the teenage years, getting them checked out is well worth being able to get your teen help if they need it to secure their wellbeing. By staying alert for signs that your child is struggling, you can be certain they get the support they need to stay healthy.


Author: Dr. Jeff Nalin, Psy.D. (PSY17766) – Founder and Clinical Director

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