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Signs Your Teen Might Be Struggling With Their Mental Health

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It’s not easy being a teenager, nor is it easy being the parent of one. Adolescence is a time filled with turbulence, life changes, tough schoolwork, and external and internal stressors. Teens can struggle with various mental health issues, bullying, difficulty adjusting to life changes, stress of what to do with their future, and so much more. They need support, but they might have a difficult time asking for it! Therapists can provide a different perspective and set of tools to help your teen than parents or peers can. Here are some signs that your teen might be struggling with their mental health and could benefit from therapy:

Unusual or Unexpected Decline in Academic Performance

If there is a noticeable decline in your teen’s grades, this could be a sign of emotional distress. They might be procrastinating, handing in assignments late, not doing their homework, not being present in class or other school activities, or having difficulty concentrating.

Withdrawal from Interests

Disinterest is not limited to schoolwork. If you notice that your teen is not spending as much time as they usually do on their hobbies, extracurriculars, or even their favorite leisure activities, this could be cause for concern.

Changes in Eating or Sleeping Habits

Sudden changes in eating and sleeping habits could come from depression, anxiety, or other mental health struggles. Your teen could be struggling with insomnia or they might be sleeping significantly more than usual. They might sleep instead of partaking in their usual activities. You may observe that they are eating more or less than usual, or display disordered eating habits such as binge eating, restrictive eating, excessive exercise, or laxative use. If you notice these changes, it might be helpful to consult with a mental health professional.


Teenage years are usually filled with socializing and building bonds with others, or for those who prefer their own time and space, they still take time to be with close family and friends. If you notice that your teen has become very isolated and has withdrawn even from their loved ones, this may be cause for concern. This could look like spending excessive time alone, turning down plans, avoiding social functions or family events, having meals alone, or losing bonds or friendships.

Self Harm and/or Substance Abuse

Sometimes, when emotions seem too unmanageable, adolescents might turn to self-harm to deal with what they are feeling. If you’ve noticed them hitting, hurting, cutting, burning, or harming themselves in any way, it is important to seek professional help. Self-harm could become a habit forming way to numb the pain they are feeling. While it is not always related to suicidal ideation, it could be an indication of it. Pain-numbing coping mechanisms also include chronic substance abuse. While experimentation with drugs and alcohol is a part of growing up, chronic use could indicate more serious issues at play. Both of these behaviors can escalate and should be addressed sooner rather than later.

Not all of these signs may be present in your teen, but it’s good to keep an eye out for any behavioral and emotional changes in your teen that seem atypical. Here at Houston-Therapy, we have many mental health professionals that help adolescents. Please check out our FAQ page or contact us to learn more.

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