Mental Health In Your Child: Look, Listen and Learn
There is a difficulty that presents itself to all parents when their child reaches the age of 13 or so; are those mood swings natural teenage, hormone-driven angst – or are they something more?
Mental health problems, such as anxiety disorders or depressive illnesses, tend to begin to manifest around puberty – clouding the issue all the more. There is also puberty itself to contend with, meaning that many teenagers may be experiencing the beginnings of a mental health issue, but do not want to confide in their parents. It is a primary worry for parents, as they watch their child grow – how do you know if your child is going through a natural change, or if it’s a medical problem?
The real trouble is, there is no real way to know. Many teenagers themselves may not know. Studies done by a UK Obsessive Compulsive Disorder charity show that many sufferers’ do begin to exhibit signs during their adolescence, but do not even see for themselves that they are developing a problem. It is often put down to normal teenage moods, and it can mean decades of miserable suffering in silence for the unfortunate individual.
As a parent, you want to protect your child, and if they do have an anxiety disorder, you want to help them. Learn to observe the way your child behaves. Reinforce with your child that you are there for them, and let on in other ways that you are understanding of mental illness. Hopefully, when if they do experience problems, they will then feel they can talk to you, and help can be sought.