Is your teen stressed, anxious or depressed?

If you don’t know what is wrong with your teen, it makes it harder to help them. Here are a few signs that your teen may be depressed.

Sometimes it’s difficult to know if your teen is happy or sad, as they are pretty good at hiding their true emotions. Surprisingly, the question is not necessarily easily answered by simply reviewing your kids’ grades. While good grades certainly show that your teens may be studying, able to concentrate, and have good priorities, they do not necessarily indicate that your teens are feeling good emotionally. Many straight-A students are very unhappy. Yes, they may be proud of their grades and pleased that they are making their parents happy. On the other hand, they are equally likely to be feeling anxious and overwhelmed by the pressure that they feel to maintain these grades. Many of them are also riddled with anxiety about disappointing you and worried that anything lower than an A will prevent them from getting into a ‘good’ university. So, how can you tell if your teens are doing well emotionally if the grades barometer is not the best barometer with which to measure their emotional well-being?

These five measures of mental health will help assess how your teen is faring. 

Your teen’s sleeping and eating habits

If your teen is having difficulty with sleep, then that is cause for concern. Teens who are stressed often have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. They may also have trouble getting up in the morning. Bear in mind though that many teens who are feeling fine have trouble getting up in the morning because they are required to get up too early. If your teen appears to have an appetite change, eating very little, or eating more than usual, then that too is a cause for concern. You are looking for changes in eating and sleeping habits here. If your teen’s eating and sleeping habits have recently changed then that is a cause for concern. On the other hand, if your teen is eating and sleeping well, then this is an excellent sign that your child is relaxed and managing stress well.

Take a look at your teen’s social life

Has he or she been staying in contact with friends? Has your teen been socially isolated of late? If so, this is concerning. Happy kids stay in touch with their friends. I am not suggesting that your child needs to have many friends. A few good friends are all most of us really need.

Is your teen taking care of his or her hygiene?

Have hygiene habits recently changed? Is your formerly neat and tidy son suddenly starting to take showers less frequently? If so, then the problem may be worse than simple body odour. Has your daughter who used to take great pride in her hair started to wash it significantly less frequently? These changes are potential red flags and may indicate that your teen is feeling distressed.

Does your teen lack interest in his/ her usual activities?

Are they suddenly significantly less eager to participate in…? You fill in the blank. A happy teen does not usually lose interest in a favourite activity in an abrupt manner.

Is your teen bored or stressed?

Has he or she stopped smiling or laughing recently? Perhaps your teen is temporarily upset but if a gloomy presentation persists for two weeks or more then there is reason for concern. Keep an eye on them and bear in mind that even stressed, anxious, and depressed teens may be able to maintain good grades. Don’t be fooled into thinking that grades are the best barometer of good mental health. They are not.

Good to know: If you are concerned about your teen, talk to them and consider having him/ her speak to a trusted adult or even a therapist.    

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