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April 20th, 2009
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Warning Signs & Symptoms

*Adapted from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Adolescence can be a difficult time for both parent and child – but if your teen is feeling extremely sad, hopeless or worthless, he/she could be showing signs of a mental health problem. Mental illnesses are medical conditions, and they often first appear between the ages of 18 and 24. If they go untreated, these illnesses can lead to distress, and dangerous behaviors like substance abuse and thoughts of suicide. Some of the signs of a possible problem – as outlined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – are listed below.

If you are a Parent or other caregiver of a teenager, pay attention if your teen:

Is troubled by feeling:

  • very angry most of the time, cries a lot or overreacts to things
  • worthless or guilty a lot
  • anxious or worried a lot more than other young people
  • grief for a long time after a loss or death
  • extremely fearful-has unexplained fears or more fears than most kids
  • constantly concerned about physical problems or appearance
  • frightened that his or her mind is controlled or is out of control

Experiences big changes, for example:

  • does much worse in school
  • loses interest in things usually enjoyed
  • has unexplained changes in sleeping or eating habits
  • avoids friends or family and wants to be alone all the time
  • daydreams too much and can’t get things done
  • feels life is too hard to handle or talks about suicide
  • hears voices that cannot be explained

Is limited by:

  • poor concentration – can’t make decisions
  • inability to sit still or focus attention
  • worry about being harmed, hurting others, or about doing something “bad”
  • the need to wash, clean things, or perform certain routines dozens of times a day
  • racing thoughts, too fast to follow
  • persistent nightmares

Behaves in ways that cause problems, for-example:

  • uses alcohol or other drugs
  • eats large amounts of food and then forces vomiting, abuses laxatives, or takes enemas to avoid weight gain
  • continues to diet or exercise obsessively, although bone-thin
  • often hurts other people, destroys property, or breaks the law
  • does things that can be life threatening

This and more can be found online at SAMHSA’s Web site.

  • Blue eyes54

    Ijust started gathering sources for a college research paper on student self-criticism and perfectionism and it’s link to depression and suicide when Cry for Help aired. I already submitted and annotated bibliography to my instructor. I hope she will accept this as an added source. I wished I would have had this kind of information in the 1070’s when I was struggling through hishg school. I think I would have stayed in college with my first attempt.My parents did not see the importance of higher education and were little encouragement. They referred to those with academic degrees as “education dummies.” I am working toward a degree in social services. I am very interested in teen suicide.

  • Blue eyes54

    Ijust started gathering sources for a college research paper on student self-criticism and perfectionism and it’s link to depression and suicide when Cry for Help aired. I already submitted and annotated bibliography to my instructor. I hope she will accept this as an added source. I wished I would have had this kind of information in the 1970’s when I was struggling through hishg school. I think I would have stayed in college with my first attempt.My parents did not see the importance of higher education and were little encouragement. They referred to those with academic degrees as “education dummies.” I am working toward a degree in social services. I am very interested in teen suicide.

  • linda

    I was doing research for a college paper on suicide when I came across this program. My brother committed suicide at the age of 19. my nephew recently dropped out of high school because of the bullying that is shown on this program. This program has opened my eyes to what is really going on and how much these teens are bombarded with crap that when I was in high school it was all in my mind! Now it seems as though its become reality and how do you deal with it? I wish I could help every single teen that feels they can’t continue! The world is so much bigger than high school and so is life!

  • bat

    This is a wonderful program. I was wondering if any college or university is using the STEPS on-line program?

  • Ousman A Diallo

    This is such a wonderful resource. I am glad to have had the inquisitiveness and found this. I am going to search this program during my entire time in grad school.

  • sam

    There is a friend of mine putting a knife to her self fake blood and all and she is taking pictures of it. She keeps telling us its is all a “JOKE” we are all crazy and over reacting. I am afraid she is going to kill herself. So I old her parents. I cant be her friend any more because of the things she has said and done. I hope she tells the truth and gets the help she needs.

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