Mental Health

7 Signs Your Teen Needs to See a Mental Health Provider

Teenage girl in bed on her laptop

How to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health issues.

Since becoming a teenager, your once-happy child has become moody. Life stinks, and it seems there’s nothing you can do to make things better. If this sounds familiar, you may wonder if this is normal teenage stuff or if it’s worth having your child speak with a mental health professional. Keep reading to learn when your teen might benefit from a mental health evaluation.

1. Sleep Changes

While younger children hate the thought of a nap, teenagers often sleep any time they can. Their growing bodies demand it. The National Sleep Foundation says it’s healthy and normal for teenagers to sleep up to 10 hours a night. However, excessive sleep or dramatic changes in sleep pattern could indicate a mental health issue.

2. Unhealthy Relationship to Food

Social media, magazines and television put a lot of pressure on teens to look a certain way. Girls are at particular risk for anorexia and bulimia. Sudden weight loss or an obsession over caloric intake could signal an eating disorder. Overeating that leads to weight gain could also signal an eating disorder or other mental health problem.

3. Avoiding Friends

Depression manifests in many ways. One is the sudden avoidance of friends and social settings. If your teen was once a social butterfly and now prefers to spend all day alone, mental illness may be to blame.

4. Loss of Interest

Your teenager who once loved piano or soccer has lost all interest. There’s nearly nothing your teen seems to care about. Visiting a mental health professional can help get to the root of the problem.

5. Unsettling Words or Actions

Teens say and do a lot of bizarre things. When they talk about harming themselves or others, however, don’t ignore it. Seek help immediately.

6. Getting Drunk or High

If your child often gets drunk or high, it could indicate a deeper issue. Teens often turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with mental illness. An evaluation can determine if that is the case.

7. Ongoing Bad Attitude

Everyone has a bad day — especially during the teen years. When that bad day never ends, it may be due to a mental health problem.

Wondering what to do now? Turn to the Augusta University Child and Adolescent Program. From bipolar disorders to depression and beyond, our experts provide compassionate mental health services for struggling teenagers.

About the author

Children's Hospital of Georgia

Children’s Hospital of Georgia is the only facility in the area dedicated exclusively to children. It staffs the largest team of pediatric specialists in the region who deliver out- and in- patient care for everything from common childhood illnesses to life-threatening conditions like heart disorders, cancer and neurological diseases.