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Back-To-School Blues?

September has come around again. New backpacks, sharpened pencils, and bagged lunches are the universal signs of the start of the new school year for your teen. Some kids may groan with the start of the school year because it means homework and tests galore, while other kids may see it as a fun time to see old friends and catch up with their classmates. Parents’ reactions may add even more diversity to the mix. Whatever going back to school feels like for you and your child, it can be more of a transition than we might initially realize.

Transitions, even good ones, can create stress. Changes abound, and sometimes it takes time to adjust. Now more than ever it is time to be on the lookout for the signs of depression, anxiety and one of their critical sources—bullying. Being bullied can very well accompany depression and anxiety. Knowing the signs and catching them early can help you be proactive. Then you can set yourself family up with the necessary tools before it becomes a bigger issue. Sometimes, a lot of stress can be avoided by planning ahead of time if any issue were to arise.

Here are some common warning signs for teens that parents would be wise to look for around back-to-school time.

Signs that your teen may be experiencing depression:

  • Physical complaints, such as headaches and stomachaches

  • Difficulty concentrating or making choices

  • Isolating from friends

  • Loss of interest in extracurricular activities they once enjoyed

  • Complaints of being tired

  • Feeling sad or hopeless

  • Drop in grades

  • Skipping school

  • Forgetting appointments

  • Lack of motivation

  • An uncharacteristic difficulty concentrating

  • Feelings of low self-esteem

  • Changing sleep patterns

  • Changes in eating and weight

  • Using alcohol or drugs as a negative coping skill

Signs that your teen may be experiencing anxiety:

  • Irritability

  • Feeling keyed up

  • Restlessness

  • Tiring quickly

  • Rapidly changing moods

  • Changing sleep patterns

  • Poor grades

  • Isolating from friends

  • Spending more time alone

  • Undereating or overeating

Signs that your teen may be experiencing bullying:

  • Bruises or wounds that can’t be explained

  • Missing or destroyed property, like clothing or electronics

  • Missing lunch at school and coming home wanting to eat

  • Faking sickness

  • Nightmares

  • Running away from home

  • Self-harming

  • Talking about suicide

The more signs that you see at one time, the greater the need for talking to your teen and finding tools to help. Prevention is also a good approach. Setting yourself up with a solid base of communication and practical tools in preparation for what to do if there ever was a problem has the potential to put your mind at ease ahead of time. At Pacific MFT Network, we thoroughly enjoy working with parents and teens to give them the tools and coping skills to manage such issues as depression, anxiety, and teen bullying.

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