Adolescence is a very crucial time, bringing about many changes in physical, emotional, social and mental well-being. With the various changes, it can be difficult to recognize the behaviors that are normal life changes and challenges from signs of a mental health difficulty. Here are a few things to look for:

Loss of interest in usual activities

If your teen once had a love for certain activities and all of sudden those interests no longer exist, this may be worth looking into. However, you must consider the appropriateness of the activity because they may have simply outgrown something they were once interested in.

Lack of socialization

We can all be placed somewhere on the introvert/extrovert scale and how social we really are, depends on our personalities. If you notice the adolescent has stopped hanging around peers or is no longer interested in attending social gatherings this may be a sign something is going on.

Acting out behavior

Another sign to look for is acting out. This can be oppositional behavior such as not following rules at home or talking back, a significant drop in academic grades, substance use, smoking, etc. Aside from a mental health difficulty, this may be a sign the adolescent is hanging around negative peer groups.


It isn’t far-fetched, as your adolescents get older they begin to be more distant and want more alone time. If you find the adolescent is isolating themselves all the time, even from friends, this can be a sign of a mental health disorder.

Change in sleep patterns

Again you have to consider what is characteristic of the adolescent but if you notice they are sleeping too much or having trouble sleeping, this is something to consider.

Loss of self-esteem

With the many changes going on during this time, it is not uncommon for adolescents to begin to be concerned about the way they look or the way others view them. However, if their self-esteem has gotten drastically low this can lead to other negative feelings and behaviors.

Remember you must think about what is characteristically out of the norm for that specific individual because everyone’s personality, temperaments and interests differ. If you recognize your adolescent fits into a few of these characteristics it isn’t cause for an immediate diagnosis of a mental disorder, however, this is an opportunity for you to check in and see what is going on with them. Have an open line of communication and let them know they can talk to you. If you are noticing these signs in someone you love or care about please visit our website for information on mental health resources and referrals.


Jamaica Harrell

Hope and Healing Center & Insitute Social Work Intern

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