Nearly one in three teens will experience a major form of anxiety and/or depression this year. With teen suicide at epidemic levels, we as parents must peel away the layers of moodiness and irritability to find out whether our teens are experiencing one-time issues or if something chronic developing.
We can’t be wrong in paying more attention because we could be on the horrible end of a phone call, as I was in 2015 when my 19-year-old son took his life while attending the University of Montana.
Let’s look at the signs of teen anxiety and take stock of if our teens are experiencing any of these symptoms.
- Recurring fears and worries about the routine parts of everyday life.
- Trouble concentrating.
- Extreme self-consciousness or sensitivity to criticism.
- Withdrawal from social activities.
- Erratic behavior.
- Avoidance with difficult or new situations.
- Avoidance from school activities or dropping of grades.
- Chronic complaints about stomachaches or headaches.
As a parent, once we discover that our teen may be depressed or overly anxious, what should we do?
To begin with, you need to have a conversation, albeit this may be awkward or difficult, with your teen. There is no better place to have these conversations than at dinner. Let mealtime be your safe time with no cell phones, no social media, and no judgment. This is much harder than it looks.
Let your teen talk about their friends as well, since they may be actually describing their own feelings while talking in third-party terms.
Don’t be afraid to give call your pediatrician and make an appointment.
Remember that your teen is not broken!
They are suffering from anxiety or depression, just like a broken arm that needs to be treated and healed.
Here are places to reach out to set up an appointment. We are happy to help:
These are licensed professionals whose job is to facilitate your family and your teen into a healthy and positive conversation. They cannot prescribe any medications. They can also be called Family Therapists. Find someone who your teen can relate to on all levels and who is local to you.
Some psychologists will have a Ph.D. level of education. They may be more equipped to diagnose mental health conditions and research treatment recommendations but cannot prescribe medications. They usually work with Psychiatrists, who can prescribe medicine and are M.D’s.
Confused? Please don’t be. Remember that your first step is to talk with your teen in-depth about their feelings, then reach out to websites such as ours, like www.abrighterday.org. We have great resources for both you and your teens. After that, talk with your pediatrician and consider counsel.
If you feel your teen is in danger of hurting themselves, call 211 immediately. Set up an appointment today with a professional and meet them with your teen and yourself. The timing could be critical.
For more help, please go to www.abrighterday.org or call me at 510-206-1103.
All my best,