The negative effects of poor mental health are becoming more apparent every day. It used to be that a person who was ‘sick in the head’ was considered to be crazy. Through much research and cultural acceptance, mental health issues have become a mainstream discussion.
Teenagers are among the most susceptible to mental health issues. The pressures they face are greater than ever. How do you know if your teenager is experiencing everyday angst or if the problem is more serious? This can be hard for relatives to recognize, but there are warning signs to guide you in the right direction.
Definition of Depression and Anxiety
The first step in helping your teen starts with understanding depression and anxiety. Depression is a mental illness that negatively affects the way a person thinks, feels, and acts. These negative thoughts make it difficult for a person to function at school, work, and/or in social settings.
Symptoms of depression and signs to look for include:
- Child feels sad
- Child feels hopeless
- Child has lost interest in something they used to enjoy
- Trouble sleeping
- Increased fatigue
- Changes in appetite, possibly resulting in weight gain or loss
Anxiety disorders are quite common. This is when a person carries a feeling of anxiety around with them all the time. It is perfectly normal for one to experience anxiety. Normally, however, those feelings come and goes. Anxiety becomes a disorder when it dominates a persons’ daily life. For example, if they struggle with a form of social anxiety, they may refuse to eat during the school day because they feel anxious eating in front of others.
Signs and symptoms of anxiety include:
- Rapid breathing
- Trouble falling asleep
- Trouble concentrating
According to the National Institutes of Health, one in three teenagers suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder. While that may be a staggering and slightly worrying statistic, it at least gives parents insight into the fact that this is a problem their child may be experiencing.
Certain risk factors play into whether a person may suffer from a mental health disorder. They include biochemistry, genetics, personality, and environmental factors. Now more than ever, teens feel pressure to succeed. Additionally, the world seems like a scarier place, and they are taught this at a younger age. Social media and a teen’s self-worth are also closely tied. Any of these possible factors can play a role in your teen’s mental health.
Tips on How to Approach Your Child to Start a Dialogue
Speaking to your child about their mental health can be scary for you as it is for them. As a parent, your goal is to get them to talk openly and feel safe.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Be unconditionally approachable
- Validate their feelings
- Try talking while completing another task (like doing the dishes) so you can avoid direct eye contact
- Be gentle and persistent without being intrusive
- Do not try to sway them out of their problems
How Can Online Therapy Help?
Online counseling for teenagers may be an excellent way to address your child’s’ issues. Firstly, lots of online therapy can be completed at any time. A session can take place at a time that is most convenient for your child. Additionally, many teens feel more comfortable using technology rather than speaking face-to-face. Some counseling can even be done anonymously. Online counseling is also cost-effective and may be cheaper than visiting a therapist’s office.
It is essential finding the right approach to conquering mental health in children. Depression in children is serious. Counseling can save lives. Don’t be afraid to try different approaches of therapy until you find the right one.
There are ample online and in-person resources available to help manage your teenager’s depression and anxiety. A few helpful resources include:
- Online counseling for families or teenagers
- Reading a book about mental health disorders
- Joining a support group
- Talk to school counselors
Society now realizes that mental health issues are common and should be addressed appropriately. It is no longer taboo to work with a mental health professional or admit to having a mental illness. If you suspect your teen is struggling, don’t shy away from the problem. There are many resources available that can help you help your teenager.
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