What Are Signs of Mental Illness in Teenagers?

April 23, 2024

The teenage years are a crucial period for mental health awareness. As teenagers navigate the complexities of adolescence, they may face various mental health challenges that can impact their well-being to a large extent. So, recognizing and addressing these concerns is paramount. Professionals at Time Wellness Georgia are well-versed in recognizing the signs of mental illness. In this article, we provide insights into the signs of mental illness in teenagers and emphasize the importance of early intervention to mitigate long-term impact.

Changes in Behavior and Mood

When assessing mental health in teenagers, it’s vital that you monitor for significant changes in behavior and mood. These can often serve as indicators of underlying issues.

For illustration, common behavioral changes include withdrawal from

  • Social interactions
  • Family
  • Activities they previously enjoyed

Apart from these, you could also notice increased agitation or irritability that manifests as unexplained anger, hostility, or sensitivity to criticism.

Next come mood fluctuations. Sure, some moodiness can be typical in teenagers due to hormonal changes. Yet, sudden or prolonged shifts in mood can be signs of mental illness in a teenager, including:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Euphoria
  • Emotional flatness
A young woman with a sad, concerned look on her face, a potential indication of signs of mental illness in teenagers
Mental health professionals in Atlanta easily recognize signs of mental illness in teenagers

These changes can be pronounced and last longer than the usual ups and downs that adolescents experience. It’s up to you as their parent, caregiver, or sibling to recognize when these changes are more than typical teenage behavior.

For example, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the behavior or mood persist for several weeks?
  • Does the behavior or mood interfere with the teenager’s daily functioning?

Parents and caregivers should observe these changes closely and consider seeking a professional evaluation if concerns arise. To that end, Georgia mental health services provide the expertise and staff to intervene timely and address mental health concerns, including thorough assessments.

Physical Signs of Mental Illness in Teenagers

People often overlook physical symptoms, although they are crucial signs of mental illness in teenagers. Here are a few changes to keep an eye on:

  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Non-regular sleep schedule

Apart from that, appetite fluctuations can also occur, with some losing their appetite and others overeating in response to emotional stress. Additionally, variations in energy levels can signal mental distress, like increased lethargy and hyperactivity.

These physical symptoms can manifest differently in teenagers compared to adults. For instance, adults often show a more consistent pattern in how symptoms show up. On the other hand, symptoms in teenagers can be erratic and vary greatly, often influenced by their developmental stage and hormonal changes. 

In any case, it’s essential that you don’t try to address these symptoms on your own. Instead, seek help from a mental health clinic in Atlanta to better spot physical symptoms as vital indicators of underlying concerns. So, if your teenager is struggling to attend school, maintain relationships, or participate in usual activities, perhaps it’s time for a professional evaluation of their behavior.

Academic and Social Changes

Academic and social changes are significant areas to watch for signs of potential mental health issues in teenagers. Academically, a noticeable decline in grades or a sudden disinterest in schoolwork can be a red flag. Also, frequent absences or reluctance to attend school might indicate underlying problems.

A woman with low self-esteem contemplating her life
Observe the frequency and duration of changes in your teenager to spot trends

We can sometimes link these academic struggles to cognitive aspects of mental health challenges, such as difficulties with:

  • Concentration
  • Memory
  • Decision-making

Socially, changes in behavior may also provide clues about a teenager’s mental health. Here are a few indications of anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues:

  • Withdrawal from friends
  • Avoidance of social activities
  • Sudden lack of interest in previously enjoyed group events
  • Conflicts with peers
  • Irritability in social situations
  • Shift toward a new peer group

To distinguish between typical teenage challenges and signs of mental illness in academic and social settings means that you have to observe the duration, frequency, and impact of these changes.

If the behaviors persist or interfere with the teenager’s ability to function effectively in daily life, it would be wise to seek professional counsel. For example, you could look up one of the most reputable centers for anxiety treatment in Atlanta. There, you’ll find expert help that is rooted in empathy and understanding for your teenager’s challenges.

Risky or Self-Destructive Behavior

Self-destructive or risky behavior like smoking, drug use, and drinking alcohol have been found to be one of the signs of mental health illness in teenagers, according to research. In fact, this kind of behavior should be a major red flag that your teenager could be suffering from a mental health concern.

Other types of risky behavior may include:

  • Practicing self-harm
  • Engaging in reckless activities
  • Taking unnecessary risks

These actions aren’t just harmful in themselves but may be symptoms of deeper psychological distress. Underlying emotional factors that drive these risky behaviors can vary. Yet, they frequently involve attempts to cope with feelings of stress, anxiety, or loneliness.

Teenagers may engage in these behaviors as a way to escape from their emotional discomfort or exert control over some aspect of their lives when they feel everything else is beyond their control. In most cases, this behavior is a cry for help or a way to express feelings that they can’t verbalize.

A girl looking sad and isolated, a clear sign of mental illness in a teenager
Risk behavior can include self-harm or regular binge drinking

To address and intervene in such behaviors, you need to ask mental health professionals to implement multiple strategies aimed at support and prevention. For starters, you can establish open, non-judgemental communication channels through which teenagers feel safe to express their struggles and feelings.

Family History and Environmental Factors

Family history and environmental factors play crucial roles in shaping a teenager’s mental health. Genetic predisposition to mental health conditions means that teenagers with a family history of such issues may have a higher risk of developing similar problems.

Moreover, here are a few other risk factors that can influence mental health outcomes:

  • Low quality of relationships
  • Superficial communication

Environmental factors like exposure to stress, trauma, or social isolation can also affect a teenager’s well-being. These elements can either exacerbate underlying mental health conditions or trigger new issues.

If you acknowledge the interplay of genetic predisposition and environmental influence, you’ll be better equipped to assess your teenager’s mental health. Otherwise, you can reach out to a Georgia mental health crisis line or talk to mental health professionals in your vicinity. That way, you’ll take timely action to prevent any long-term consequences.

Build Resilience: Get Help For Your Teenager Now

In this article, we covered some of the most common signs of mental illness in teenagers.

Parents and caregivers are often the first to notice changes in teenager’s behavior that may indicate mental health concerns. So, trust your instincts. If you suspect that something is off, it’s important to seek professional help for your teenager as soon as possible.

First, observe your teen’s behavior, mood, and overall well-being. Next, assess how and when you want to discuss the matter with a mental health professional. A psychiatrist or psychologist will provide a proper diagnosis and a treatment plan tailored to your teenager’s unique needs.

Contact Time Wellness Georgia today to let your teenager live a long and thriving life!