The National Institute of Mental Health suggests over 13% of teens between the ages of 12-17 struggle with major mental health issues. Many of these mental health problems are the result of grief of loss. Young adults process grief and loss in different ways than adults, and this can lead to potentially destructive disorders, behaviors, or habits.
Parents should be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of their teen’s grief or loss and should feel empowered to seek outside help when necessary. Adolescent grief is different in many ways. First of all, adolescent grief is more likely to occur unexpectedly, usually as a result of a tragic, unplanned loss. According to the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 70% of deaths between the ages of 12-19 are a result of an accident, suicide, or homicide, all of which occur unexpectedly and can create intense grief in those affected.
Possible Symptoms of Teen Grief
It is important as a parent to be able to recognize and understand the many different symptoms of grief in teens. Remember that each case of adolescent grief is different, and may show symptoms of different intensities.
Teens experiencing a loss likely will begin to isolate themselves from their family and their peers. They may attempt to hide their real feelings from parents, teachers, and counselors because they fear nobody will understand them. It is vital you continue to keep lines of communication open for teens who have experienced a loss, as they likely will attempt to shut their loved ones from their lives.
Because teens often feel pressure to fit in and appear “normal” to their peers, they tend to suppress true feelings of grief. Adolescents suffering from grief or loss may avoid being labeled “the weird kid” by pretended to be okay when in reality they are not. Once again, it is important to communicate with your child about their real feelings and emphasize how it is okay to express them.
Increased levels of anxiety are normal after a traumatic event or large loss, as the mind has difficulty coping with what has happened and the new reality. Teens suffering from increased anxiety might become irrational or continue to create new problems for themselves that might be hard to understand as a parent. Your once confident, happy child, for instance, might suddenly second guess his or herself when it comes to things they previously were good at.
One of the more serious symptoms of teen loss is depression. Many believe that depression is simply feeling sad, but in reality, it can be much more harmful than that. Depression in teens can reduce their ability to function daily, and it might require intense treatment. Centered Health has many programs and options for teens suffering from depression stemming from grief.
No parent wants to think their child is capable of self-harm. However, this is the unfortunate reality for many teens who suffer from an intense loss. Self-harm is a way for adolescents to regain control of their feelings, and it requires immediate intervention. If you suspect your child wishes to harm his or herself, seek immediate treatment.
While many teens might be able to deal with their grief symptoms in a positive way, many adolescents require more intense treatment. It is important to speak to a qualified health professional to determine the best treatment path for your child.
One of the best ways to combat severe teen loss or grief is through inpatient therapy. At Centered Health, there is a team of qualified experts prepared to deliver an individual treatment plan for your child. Inpatient therapy allows your child to work with a professional to discover the root cause of their pain, as well as heal in a positive, trustworthy environment. There are a variety of inpatient treatment options available for your teen regardless of his or her grief level and symptoms.