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More Than Rebellious: 5 Signs Your Teen is Crying out for Help

more-than-rebellious-5-signs-your-teen-is-crying-out-for-helpIt’s perfectly natural for teenagers to go through a rebellious phase. Part of growing up is trying out new looks and actions, including ones that annoy or even shock parents. However, some teen behavior is not mere rebellion but a cry for help. It’s important to be able to know the difference. These are five common signs that you should look out for in your teen.

Using Alcohol or Drugs

Consuming alcohol, illegal drugs or illegally obtained prescription drugs is a warning sign that your teen could be having serious problems. Even teens who claim or believe they are just experimenting may slip into addiction. At the very least, this usually suggests that the teen is using substances to solve some kind of problem that needs attention. If your teen suddenly has unexplained extra spending money, this could be a sign that he or she is selling drugs. However, it is very important to evaluate why he or she feels the need to participate in such activities, and so counseling may be a good option.


Self-harming behavior includes cutting, burning or otherwise hurting oneself. This type of behavior must always be taken seriously. Self-harm is often one of the first warning signs that comes before a mental health crisis or suicide attempt. Such behavior is often done in an attempt to release themselves from the emotional pain that they may for feeling for one reason or another. Teens that exhibit such behavior need help promptly from experienced psychologists.

Signs of an Eating Disorder

Eating disorders are an increasingly common problem among teenagers. Symptoms of eating disorders such as Anorexia or Bulimia include sudden loss of weight, change in eating behavior and preoccupation with weight or appearance. Teens may develop this type of problem by spending time with friends who have eating disorders or from using unnaturally thin celebrities as role models. Eating disorders can be extremely dangerous so never ignore any warning signs. Talk your son or daughter about the importance of eating right. If it becomes an issue, though, don’t hesitate to find help through services like the Center for Change that can work with your youth to help them to move past their disorder.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression is a mental health issue that affects people of all ages, including teens. Some signs of depression are easy to spot, such as downcast moods and spending lots of time alone. In some cases, however, depression manifests as anger or extreme mood swings. What you really need to watch out for are drastic changes in your teen’s mental state. If he or she is normally content and positive and is suddenly sad all the time or never feels like doing anything they used to like to do, you should take note.


The average teen tells white lies on occasion. Your son or daughter might promise to come home by 10 and walks in closer to midnight. However, if your teen is regularly lying to you, something is wrong. Frequent dishonesty often suggests that the teen is hiding something such as drug use or other harmful behavior. It’s important to set ground rules in the family about sticking to the truth. At the same time, recognize that lying is often a cry for help and a sign that your teen may be in trouble.

These are some of the most common signs that a teenager isn’t simply going through a rebellious phase but really needs help. You always have to use your own judgement. In some cases, however, it’s best to consult with a professional such as a guidance counsellor or psychologist if you’re not sure what your teen’s behavior means.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.
Tim Esterdahl

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