The teenage years are challenging for both you as the parent and your teen. It can be a confusing time of raging hormones, turmoil and difficult questions. Unfortunately, there is no perfect roadmap you can use to help your teen navigate this time, and many parents find themselves at a loss. A crisis for your teen may be different than for another teen. Although it may feel as if you don’t recognize your child anymore, they are still the person you have raised, and you do know them better than anyone else. Don’t let your teen tell you differently. Your teen may be dealing with depression, considering suicide, having mental health issues, be abusing drugs or alcohol or a combination of the above.

How do I know my teen is in crisis and not just being a teen?

This is a very common concern amongst parents and a valid one. There are many varying signs and symptoms of crisis amongst teens. Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between normal teenage behavior, which is often erratic and feels anything but normal, and behavior that should raise serious red flags. We’re going to cover some of the main warning signs of depression and crisis behavior. But the best rule of thumb to keep in mind when you are concerned about your teen is the prolonged and extreme display of the following symptoms.

Warning Signs of Depression or Mental Health Issues

  • Irritability, anger or hostility
  • Dramatic changes in eating and/or sleeping habits
  • Sudden withdrawal from friends and family
  • Suddenly replacing old friends with a new group
  • Persistent sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness and guilt
  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation together with fatigue and poor energy
  • Persistent difficulty concentrating
  • Dramatic swings in school performance
  • Sudden lack of interest in activities
  • Joking about or talking about committing suicide or dying
  • Speaking positively about death or romanticizing dying

Many of the warning signs above are not uncommon to spring up now and again during the course of a child going through their teens. With hormones causing emotions to swing wildly back and forth, it is a confusing and often scary time for teens. As we mentioned before, you know your child better than anyone. If you see any of the signs above, we encourage you to do some serious investigating. There might be perfectly understandable reasons for your teen’s sudden change in friends. Starting a new sport might bring a new group of kids into your teen’s world, which could be a good or negative. Remember your teen is probably as frustrated and confused by everything that is going on as you are. You have the opportunity to be the loving, steady rock in their life when nothing else is. Don’t be afraid to as them questions in a calm and caring way. Take the time to be involved in their lives.

There are resources available to you and your teen if they are in crisis and need immediate help or just need to talk. Here are a few of them:

http://carelinealaska.com/
http://juneausuicideprevention.org/
http://juneaumentalhealth.org/

Remember you are not the only parent to worry about your teen and ask these questions. You are not alone. Your teen is not the first one to need help, and they are not alone. We are here to help.