Before we go any further, immediate intervention should be undertaken if your teen is displaying self-harming behaviors, made a suicide attempt, or is engaging in drug use or assaultive behavior. If that is the case, you can skip right to the end of this article to find help.
Establishing what is normal vs abnormal teen behavior
Not every teen who displays mood swings is in need of counseling. You can expect some defiance or minor rebellion, or changes in what interests them. It’s time to take notice when changes in your teen’s behavior begin to interfere in other aspects of their life in a harmful way.
As a parent or guardian, judging a teenager’s behavior and determining what is “normal” versus what is abnormal can be difficult. We’ve all been teenagers before and can remember what it was like to go through the trials and tribulations of hormones and high school. There are several warning signs for which you can be on the lookout.
Teen counseling warning signs:
- Sleeping difficulties
- Loss of interest in activities they used to like
- Excessive crying
- Dramatic change in appetite
- Panic attacks
- Excessive worry
- Illegal activities (theft, fighting, AWOL)
- Sexual acting out
- Drug use
- Self-harming behaviors
- Increased aggression
Oftentimes these types of symptoms will result in behavior or mood changes that affect how they’re performing and interacting at school or work. You might notice dropping grades. They may start calling in sick to work or skipping shifts altogether. Relationships with friends or family may become significantly strained. At this point, talking to a teen therapist is a logical step. Additionally, if you know that a certain behavior began after a significant event (trauma, divorce, etc.) or you have witnessed an expression of or gesture made regarding wanting to die or hurt themselves it is definitely time to seek the help of a therapist.
What to do when your teen needs help?
Calling your pediatrician or family doctor first to rule out any medical issues and to get guidance regarding mental health services is always a great first step. Necco accepts self-referrals as well as a referral from your doctor or hospital. When someone calls we gather necessary information, verify insurance, and schedule an intake. At the intake appointment a comprehensive diagnostic assessment is completed and then we make treatment recommendations based on assessment.
If this seems like a lot to take in, you’re not alone. A lot of people in your situation feel overwhelmed with even talking about this. You might want to check out our article, How should I talk to my teen about therapy for some guidance.