What Are The Signs?
As parents, it is always hard to imagine that your kid will ever have issues with their health. It’s even more unfathomable to think they may have a mental illness. But mental illness can affect anyone, and it’s important for parents to be able to notice when something seems “off” with their child.
Some signs that your teen may be dealing with anxiety or depression:
- Seems avoidant
- Won’t participate in activities they enjoy
- Complains of stomach pain, nausea, headaches, or heart palpitations not linked to any medical issues
- Is restless
- Feels worthless or guilty (for no reason)
- Lacks energy
- Has trouble concentrating
- Mentions thoughts of suicide
What To Do If My Teen Has Anxiety Or Depression
Most teens experiencing anxiety or depression will feel like a burden and won’t tell parents right away. Parents, talk to your teens. Let them know that they can tell you anything, no matter what it is. And if you see them exhibiting some of these signs, say something. Don’t expect them to grow out of it. You can’t grow out of mental illness any more than you can grow out of cancer or diabetes.
Don’t Dismiss Them
Validating and empathizing with your teen’s experiences and feelings will go a long way to helping. Don’t dismiss them or their feelings. A few things to avoid telling your teen:
- It’s just a phase.
- You’ll feel better in a few days.
- It’s all in your head.
- You’re overreacting.
- Calm down.
Instead, ask them how you can help. Validate them and show empathy. Tell them “I’m here for you” and let them open up about their problems.
While parental involvement can do a lot (and is most times the catalyst to the teen getting help), resources for anxiety and depression are there for a reason. Share with your teen any resource you may have found, like support groups or youth centers. Most places will be able to provide your teen with coping methods to help when panicked or depressed.
Don’t Choose For Them
Your teen won’t heal until they make the choice to. Offer suggestions and advice but let them take the initiative to a healthy life.
Above all, make sure that your teen knows that you are on their side. You can never go wrong with love and support.