It’s tricky to say when exactly you should seek teen counseling, especially since concerned parents don’t want to further upset or exacerbate a situation with their teenager. There are some simple signs to look for, however, which can help you make the call on whether your teenager’s anger, sadness, unruliness, or apathy is more than just growing pains.
What to Look for in your Teenager’s Life that Indicates There’s a Need for Counseling & Mental Health Care:
- Rapid changes in personality/mood swings. While it might seem like this is nothing more than a normal teen issue, moodiness and rapid changes in disposition can be an indicator of a mood disorder. When in doubt, look for the changes over a period of time, moods that have no obvious tie to a triggering event, and look for changes that are obviously detrimental to their well being and success. For instance, sadness and anger after a breakup certainly seems normal- however, it can be non-normative if the sadness and anger are extreme in nature and are sustained over long period of time. Major upswings and downswings in mood on a daily basis should be investigated as well, particularly if they are affecting your teens ability to function with the family and school.
- Sustained depression or apathy. Distinguishing between true depression and apathy can sometimes be difficult with teens, as most parents are familiar with the stereotype of teen angst and melodramatic behavior. Look for changes in behavior and a decrease in interest in things that normally brought them joy, as well as reckless behavior, loss of focus/concentration, bad behavior at school, changes to sleep patterns, anger, self loathing/deprecation, feelings of and expressing hopelessness.
- Sudden changes in weight. Eating disorders are a very real and life-threatening issue with teens, and while most people associate them with teen girls more and more teenage boys are falling to disordered eating to maintain an image. If your teen is losing weight, doesn’t eat or binges, or is hyper-focused on image and nutrition, you should look into our eating disorder treatment and counseling.
- Major changes to school behavior and grades. At Lake Orion Counseling Center, we love school counselors and teachers- they’re often your first line of defense in spotting and recommending treatment for mental health disorders. If someone at your teens school has recommended counseling, it’s likely due to poor grades, major changes in personality, or identified risk behaviors. We welcome the opportunity to work with your teen and your teen’s school to get them through their troubles and back on track for success!
- Sudden changes in friends/social circles. As a parent, you likely already know your teens friends. If you see that they’re no longer ‘hanging out’ with the good kids that they were friends with before, there’s likely a reason. This is a great opportunity to talk to your teen and their friends to assess the risk involved and what caused your teen to shift social groups. If you notice a change in friends coupled with any of the signs to look for listed above, you might want to seek counseling for your teenager. Peer influence is a huge issue with teens as they are growing and trying to discover who they want to be, and part of ensuring your teens well being is making sure that those people that influence them the most (their friends) are a good influence.
- Drug paraphernalia and addictive tendencies/ disappearing prescriptions. Again, if you couple this with any of the above, you’ll likely want to seek counseling right away. Teens are known to be experimental, and again as they are trying to find their path in life they may succumb to peer pressure and experiment with drugs. With heroin addiction and opiate abuse at an all-time high in Oakland County and Southeastern Michigan, it’s imperative that you keep close watch over your teen to help them from going down a dark path or overdosing. Call us today to learn more about our addiction & substance abuse counseling.
When in doubt, seek a professional opinion- there’s no harm done, and it could prevent your teen from going down a path in life that they would regret. Contact us today!