I thought I'd write about the signs and symptoms youth and teens might exhibit, to provide some insight that may traditionally be thought to be "normal" of their age groups. I thought this might prove helpful not only for families, but for youth and teens themselves who are going through something like this, and are feeling confused and frustrated. It's important to note, I'm not a licensed mental health professional. This list below from my first hand experience, and those of others I know who have battled mental health conditions in their youth and teen years.
- They completely withdraw, not only from the family, but from their friends and social activities as well. While this could be just "teen years", it may not be. Teen years are usually a time of trying to cultivate friendships, find your niche in life, be part of a group. Pulling away from these mirrors how depression often appears in adults.
- There's drastic change in eating or sleeping habits that persists over a long period of time. This can be a symptom of multiple conditions, such as depression, anxiety, mood, or eating disorders.
- Their friends notice a major change in personality or attitude. We have to be careful with this, because it could indeed just be the ups and downs of young friendships. But it could be something more. Sometimes those who know us best can see the signs before we ourselves can.
- They exhibit or feel pronounced mood swings, which don't appear to be linked to specific situations. Often these will last for a few days to a week, but they may last longer, or they may be more rapid.
- They complain of being constantly anxious, jittery, irritated, and/or jumpy without a particular reason. This can be a symptom of hypomania or mania in someone with mood cycling.
- They have extreme trouble concentrating or focusing on tasks or ideas, even those that are really important to them - ie it's not because they're bored or uninterested.
- They talk about feeling worthless or hopeless, particularly without a triggering event that might make them feel this way.