Signs Your Teen Needs Professional Help

We all know how teens are. They can be secretive, moody, and irritable most of the time. While these and other behaviors are common in adolescence, you should know that’s not always the case. Research suggests that up to 20 percent of adolescents suffer from mental illness worldwide.

So, how can you possibly know if it’s just your teen’s behavior or if there’s an underlying mental health issue? It can be hard to find out, and it can be even harder to address the problem. But don’t despair—there are suggestive warning signs you should pay attention to, especially if you suspect your teen needs professional help.

Poor Academic Performance

How are your teen’s grades at school? It turns out doing badly in school might require more than just a tutor, depending on the case.

Try to bring up the topic with your teen, without judgment. Which subjects are they struggling with? Do they talk to anyone in class? Are they doing their homework?

It’s normal if they’re reluctant to answer, especially if their grades are, in fact, worse. It’s a good idea to reassure your teen you won’t be mad if they tell you what’s going on. If that doesn’t work, you might want to consult their teachers at school, and as a final resort, you should talk to the school’s principal. Trying to pry into their life or being overly inquisitive won’t help in a moment like this.

A Change In Eating Habits

If you’ve noticed your teen has lost or gained a lot of weight and is trying to hide it, start paying attention to their behavior. Dramatic weight loss or gain, bingeing, purging, and eating in secret might indicate an eating disorder. Common eating disorders include anorexia and bulimia nervosa, and learning more about them will help you recognize telltale symptoms.

Mood Swings

Emotional instability in teens isn’t usually concerning as it’s related to natural hormonal changes during the teen years. However, if you start noticing clear signs of depression (like loss of interest or deep sadness), excessive irritability, or violent behavior, then something else might be going on and should be discussed with a pediatrician.

Drug Use

When it comes to potential substance abuse problems, the sooner you spot them, the better. It might feel wrong to approach your teen without frustration or anger if you find out they’re using drugs, but it is the best solution. Besides pointing out the dangers of drugs, listen to them, and let them know you’ll support them through it. That’s the best way of getting them to be honest with you about what’s happening.

Suicidal Thoughts

It’s not easy to know if your teen is having dangerous thoughts, but there are ways to find out. For example, suicidal remarks are big red flags. If your teen says things similar to “I wish I wasn’t alive”, this shouldn’t be taken lightly. Although warning signs aren’t the same for everyone, keep an eye out for sudden social isolation, hopelessness, or romanticization of death (as in writing poems about death, for instance).

What To Do If Your Teen Has A Problem

As a parent, you should get help for your teen even if you don’t feel comfortable with it at first. Throughout the process, constantly remind yourself that the fact that your teen has a problem doesn’t make you a bad parent, as well as it doesn’t make them bad sons or daughters.

If you’re concerned about spending too much on medical bills, you can find affordable health insurance plans at This way, if your teen’s case requires hospitalization or more expensive medical treatments, you won’t have something else to worry about.

Being comprehensive and talking to your teen’s pediatrician is the best way to handle the situation. A health care provider will refer you to the best treatment options, including mental health professionals or centers that provide higher levels of care, like the Polaris residential treatment facility for youth. During such a difficult phase, you must follow your parental instincts and get professional help as soon as possible.

Sadie Allen


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