Mood changes. Look for feelings of sadness or withdrawal that last at least two weeks or severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships at home or school. Intense feelings. Be aware of feelings of overwhelming fear for no reason — sometimes with a racing heart or fast breathing — or worries or fears intense enough to interfere with daily activities.Behavior changes. This includes drastic changes in behavior or personality, as well as dangerous or out-of-control behavior.
Fighting frequently, using weapons or expressing a desire to badly hurt others also are warning signs.
Difficulty concentrating. Look for signs of trouble focusing or sitting still, both of which might lead to poor performance in school.
Unexplained weight loss. A sudden loss of appetite, frequent vomiting or use of laxatives might indicate an eating disorder.
Physical harm. Sometimes a mental health condition leads to suicidal thoughts or actual attempts at self-harm or suicide.
Substance abuse. Some kids use drugs or alcohol to try to cope with their feelings.
Changes in school performance
Poor grades despite strong efforts
Excessive worry or anxiety (i.e., refusing to go to bed or school)
Persistent disobedience or aggression
Frequent temper tantrums
Older Children / Pre-adolescents
Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
Excessive complaints of physical ailments
Defiance of authority, truancy, theft, and/or vandalism
Intense fear of weight gain
Prolonged negative mood, often accompanied by poor appetite or thoughts of death
Frequent outbursts of anger
Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability)
Feelings of extreme highs and lows
Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
Strong feelings of anger
Delusions or hallucinations
Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
Denial of obvious problems
Numerous unexplained physical ailments
To learn more about symptoms that are specific to a particular mental illness, refer to the Mental Health America brochure on that illness.
Warning Signs of Drug/Alcohol Abuse in Teens
Someone with alcohol dependence may suffer serious withdrawal symptoms, such as trembling, delusions, hallucinations, and sweating, if he or she stops drinking suddenly (“cold turkey”). Once alcohol dependence develops, it becomes very hard to stop drinking without outside help. Medical detoxificationClick here to see more information. may be needed.
Symptoms of an alcohol problem include
Drinking more and more for the same “high”
Denial of the problem
A person with an alcohol problem may
Gulp or sneak drinks
Drink alone or early in the morning
Suffer from the shakes
He or she may also have family, school, or work problems or get in trouble with the law because of drinking.
Loss of appetite, increase in appetite, any changes in eating habits, unexplained weight loss or gain.
Slowed or staggering walk; poor physical coordination.
Inability to sleep, awake at unusual times, unusual laziness.
Red, watery eyes; pupils larger or smaller than usual; blank stare.