Teenagers have it rough. Pressures from school, peer groups, and difficulties at home add significant amounts of stress and anxiety to their day. What’s more, is that their hormones are completely off the charts--adding even more intensity to their daily stresses and anxieties.
While some teens have the natural ability to overcome this stress effectively, others have a much more difficult time managing stress due to untreated mental illness, such as depression or anxiety. Without proper treatment, depression and anxiety can completely derail a teens ability to lead a happy and fulfilling life. In some extreme cases, these untreated illnesses may even lead to damaging behaviors that could negatively impact the rest of their lives.
At Pathways Counseling Services, we believe every teenager has a right to access the information and mental health care they need to minimize the impact depression and anxiety has on their well-being. If you are a parent or legal guardian of a teen and notice any of the behaviors listed in this article, we strongly urge you to help them get the help they need.
Leaving anxiety and depression untreated among teenagers can lead to careless (and often dangerous) behavior. Such behaviors will certainly make life more difficult for your teen, and in more serious cases, may even cost them their lives. Here are a few warning signs that indicate your teen may need help with his or her depression and anxiety.
Depression and anxiety can cause teens to "act out" and participate in reckless activities that can affect them for the rest of their lives. Premature and/or unprotected sexual activity, drugs/drinking, dropping out of school, crime, and self-harm are all examples of irrevocable behaviors that could negatively alter a teenager's life. While some risky behaviors are considered “normal” for teenagers, that doesn’t mean they are safe or have any less of an impact on their future.
While some teens try alcohol because they want to experiment, some teens turn to drinking as a form of self-medication and mental escape. Either way, this behavior only makes problems worse. It can intensify the pain from depression and anxiety, but it can also lay the groundwork for health problems and other very serious obstacles and behaviors down the road.
Similar to drinking underage, teens can turn to drugs as a way to dull the pain (or outright escape) the pain and sadness brought on by their depression and anxiety. Drug use may also open the door to even higher-risk behavior, such as dealing drugs or harder drug use. In either case, there is rarely a positive outcome. Drug use can significantly impact one’s mental and physical health, ability to get a job, and may even end in jail time or death.
Low Self Esteem
Without treating their depression and anxiety, teens are much less likely to learn the positive and productive strategies they need to actively improve their self-esteem. Low self-esteem can cause a variety of difficulties and pain for teenagers that may manifest into more serious self-destructive behaviors.
Self-harm is a very serious and unfortunately common activity teens with untreated anxiety and depression put themselves through. No matter the reason for their behavior, self-harm is an extremely unhealthy and damaging behavior--and at times, life-threatening.
On the most extreme end of harmful behavior, suicide is a tragic last resort for teens in crisis. Because teens lack the insight and wisdom to understand the severity of the act, as well as lack the proper coping strategies and appropriate medications that might help prevent escalations to this degree from happening--suicide is an especially heartbreaking act that could have otherwise been prevented with the proper treatment.
Pathways Counseling Services is a Scottsdale, AZ-based counseling practice that specializes in treating depression and anxiety, especially in children and teenagers. We believe that with the proper education and treatment of these mental health obstacles, our clients are better able to understand there are healthy and sustainable ways to improve their quality of living for the rest of their lives, long after their treatment with us is complete.
If you have a teenager who you think may be suffering from depression or anxiety, we encourage you to reach out and get them the help they need right away. You can schedule an appointment here or give us a call at (480) 235-1682 and we will be in touch.