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When is it necessary to take my teen to a psychologist?
Today's world offers many challenges for adolescents. Just like adults, teenagers can be under extreme stress, which takes its toll on their mental and emotional well-being. The stress can come from many places: the pressure to perform well in school, family problems, or from their own friendship and dating relationships.
Keeping track of your child through adolescence is just as important as when they were younger. Despite their protests to the contrary, teenagers are not yet fully equipped to deal with the adult world, and still need their parents to provide structure, guidance and protection. Indeed, teenagers expect and want their parents to care about them and what they are doing. Parents can show they care by being interested and involved. Generally, parents who are involved in their teenagers' lives tend to have more trusting and open relationships with their teenagers.
It is important to realise that a certain amount of stress and emotional upheaval is healthy, normal and age appropriate. However parents should seek counselling for their adolescent if they are seeing any of the following signs:
- Radical changes in behaviour or mood (extreme sadness or unexplained elation and excitement)
- Notable changes in sleeping pattern (having difficulty falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much)
- Self-harm activity like cutting or scratching – these activities can produce an endorphin effect that temporarily numbs unpleasant feelings of stress or sadness
- Changes in school performance, truancy or other disciplinary problems at school
- Threats to run away from home
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Frequent outbursts of anger
- Being extremely conscious of body image, fear of gaining weight or binging/purging behaviour
- Extreme anxiety and worry or obsessive thinking/behaviours
- Preoccupation with death or talk of suicide