It can be difficult to tell when an adolescent’s behavior has crossed the line from typical teen behavior to indications of mental or emotional imbalance. Rebellion, moodiness, and sometimes shocking assertions of independence are to be expected with any teen and can already leave parents’ frazzled and looking for healthy ways to cope. But, too often, this behavior can be a sign that the teen is in need of professional help to help them regain control of their life and avoid potential harm to themselves.
Distinguishing Cries for Help from Normal Teen Behavior
Normal, healthy teens are frequently argumentative, self-centered, and engage in a somewhat reckless behavior. But, it is easy for that behavior to go too far and to be a sign that the teen is struggling with a mental or emotional disorder.
Recognizing the Signs
• Sudden changes in mood or behavior. Parents know what is typical behavior for their child. However, if the teen shows drastic changes in mood and/or behavior (such as being more irritable, combative, or anxious or suddenly avoiding friends, favorite hobbies, and plummeting grades) this can be a sign that there are larger problems that necessitate professional help.
• Alcohol or drug use. While recreational drug and alcohol use can be social in teens, many times adolescents will use alcohol and/or drugs in an attempt to self-medicate and control the symptoms of their disorder. In this instance, sending the teen to a treatment center or wilderness therapy program, such as Wingate Wilderness Therapy, can be the most effective treatment option.
• History of mental illness within the family. Many mood disorders have genetic contributors that increase the likelihood of that individual developing the disorder.
• Frequent physical complaints, such as digestive issues, lack of appetite, headaches, backaches, trouble sleeping, and lack of energy. The teen may also seem distracted and unable to concentrate, or they may have racing thoughts and exaggerated opinions on their capabilities.
For the parents of troubled teens, making the decision to seek professional help for their son or daughter can feel like a failure. However, seeking help for mental or emotional problems is no different than seeking help from a doctor for physical problems. Neither is a sign of a bad or failed parent, rather, it is a sign of a caring parent who recognizes that their teen is troubled and gets them the help they need to be okay.
As part of the therapeutic treatment program offered by Wingate Wilderness Therapy, troubled teens have access to licensed counselors around the clock. Through alliance based treatment, these teens are supported in working through their thoughts and analyzing their behaviors to discover the root cause of their issues. From there, thanks to the unique environment that the wilderness provides, teens choose to do the necessary mental and emotional work not just to recognize their issues, but to confront and move forward from them.