“I have been a terrible father and my son doesn’t love me. “ “People will think I have failed as a parent because my son shows behavior problems. “ “I should have stayed home when my daughter was little. “ “My divorce time sharing deprived my child from being a full time mother. “ Very often, parents feel responsible for their adolescent problems and don’t seek professional help.

 These are the WARNING SIGNS to seek professional help for your adolescent:

Warning signs of Depression:

  • Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate normal feelings of being down or worried or stressed from the signs of serious depression.The difference between normal depressed feelings and serious depression is how deep those feelings are and how long they continue.Please consider talking to a Psychologist if your son or daughter shows several of the signs listed below:

Physical signs:

  • Change in sleeping patterns (difficulties falling or remaining asleep or sleeping too much)
  • Change in eating patterns (significant weight loss or gain)
  • Fatigue, loss of energy

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Decline in the quality of schoolwork
  • Social withdrawal (from family or friends)

Cognitive symptoms/thoughts:

  • Lessened ability to concentrate or think
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
  • Death threats
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Delusional thoughts


  • Irritability, hostility
  • Frequent sadness, tearfulness or crying
  • Feelings of worthlessness, self-reproach or extreme guilt
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities
  • Low self esteem and guilt
  • Not tolerating praise or rewards
  • Persistent boredom
  • Pessimism

A depressed teenager who is planning to commit suicide may also:

  • Complain of being a bad person or feeling “rotten inside”
  • Give verbal hints with statements such as: “I won’t be a problem for you much longer,” “Nothing matters,” “It’s no use,” and “I won’t see you again”
  • Put his or her affairs in order, for example, give away favorite possessions, clean his or her room, throw away important belongings, etc.

Warning Signs of eating disorder:

  • Preoccupation with weight control, calories, strict and extreme dieting
  • Three types of dieting: fasting, calorie control, avoiding `forbidden’ foods, `healthy’ eating
  • Binge eating: eats enormous amounts of food in a short period of time, often secretly
  • Frequent weight fluctuation (as a result of alternating bingeing and fasting)
  • Fear to gain weight. Compensatory ways:

– Uses laxatives, diuretics or diet pills (complaints of feeling bloated or constipated)

– Self induces vomiting

– Has increased use of the bathroom, especially immediately after meals

– Compulsive exercising

– Toys or plays with food rather than eating it

– Hides food or throws it away

  • Medical complications:

– Irregular or absent menstruation

– Effects on fertility and pregnancy

– Changes in serotonin levels

– Red knuckles and / or puffiness around eyes and cheeks

– Sudden increase in tooth decay

– Damage to the throat (frequent sore throat or hoarseness)

– Electrolyte abnormalities: dizziness or fainting spells

– Effects on the stomach from binge eating

– Complaints of always being cold –wears multiple layers of clothing

  • Personality traits: competitive and achievement oriented, somewhat shy and solitary, all-or-nothing thinking, impulsive
  • Perfectionism and low self esteem

 Warning Signs of substance abuse:

  • Sudden drop in grades / academic failure
  • Truancy –skipping classes or entire days
  • Inattentive in class / sleeping in class
  • Increased boredom or lethargy / decreased discipline or motivation
  • Drops out of sports or other extracurricular activities
  • Smells of alcohol or marijuana
  • Decreased attention to personal hygiene
  • Obvious signs of hangover or drug use (reddened eyes)
  • Increased isolation from friends and family
  • Increase in lying or blaming others for irresponsible actions
  • Change in friends or peer group, especially to an older crowd
  • Incidence of fighting with peers
  • Increased disrespect towards parents, teachers and authority
  • Increased disregard of rules and the consequences in breaking them
  • Sells possessions for money
  • Burns on hand or clothing
  • Mental of physical disorientation
  • Possession of medication without medical reasons
  • Increased irresponsible actions (breaking curfew, sneaking out at night)
  • Suspicion of theft from family members or stores (money, goods, alcohol…)
  • Lack of response to previously desired rewards
  • Frequent visits to bathroom
  • Changes in personality / severe mood swings
  • Dramatic weight loss or gain
  • Decreased physical coordination / increased physical injuries and complaints
  • Increased secretiveness about personal problems or activities
  • Elusive about friends or whereabouts
  • Violence –verbal or physical abuse
  • Erratic eating or sleeping habits
  • Blackouts
  • Increased anxiety and nervousness (can’t sit still)
  • Presence of drug paraphernalia or literature
  • Incidents of accidents or reckless driving, especially driving under the influence
  • Trouble with the law