Isn’t My Teen Just Going Through a Phase?

Parents often have difficulty distinguishing between the normal behavioral and emotional growing pains of adolescence and signs of deeper psychological problems. It is important to recognize when a teen is not merely adjusting to the pressures of adolescence, but is indeed suffering from more serious behavioral or emotional problems. Early intervention for such problems tends to result in the best outcome.

Did You Know?

A depressed teen might not seem depressed in the classical interpretation of the term. Adolescents who are depressed may instead show signs of being irritable and having a low frustration level

General signs that your teen might have a behavioral, emotional, or developmental problem that require assessment by a mental health professional might include:

  • Decline in school performance or difficulty with school regardless of how how they work to achieve
  • Withdraws from friends, family, usual activities or hobbies
  • Sleep problems (insomnia, sleeplessness, nightmares)
  • Hyperactivity or irritability
  • Frequent bouts of aggression or “acting out;” often angry
  • Continuous oppositional behavior (hostile to authority)
  • Refuses to go to school; skips school frequently
  • Frequent and excessive anxiety or worry
  • Depression; thoughts of death; suicidal
  • Lying, cheating, or stealing
  • Destructive behaviors (vandalism; self-injury)
  • Threatening self or others
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Acts out sexually
  • Numerous physical complaints