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Expert Offers Tips for Recognizing Teens at Risk

(March 09, 2012)

SEATTLE, WA -- (Marketwire) -- 03/09/12 -- Adolescence is difficult in the best of times. It's doubly stressful for kids today, says Dr. Gregory L. Jantz, (, a psychologist and author of "When Your Teenager Becomes ... The Stranger in Your House."

They're experiencing the same worries and insecurities as adults in this troubled economy, from families struggling with joblessness to increasing competition for college admissions.

"Teens overwhelmed by stress often are unable to ask for help," he says. "But the longer they flail, the more likely they'll develop more serious problems."

So how do you know when typical teen characteristics have moved beyond "normal?" Jantz says:

  • Arguing is normal; constant anger is not. Sometimes teens argue just to argue. It allows them to let off steam, express their displeasure about life in general and test boundaries. But it's not normal for a teen to be angry and hostile all the time, constantly fighting and yelling.
  • Withdrawal from parents is normal; pulling away from family and friends is not. Expect your teen to start pulling away from you -- unless they want something -- and occasionally from friends, as well. But when they isolate themselves for weeks, they may be struggling with depression. Socializing with friends is one of the first things to go as depression sucks the joy out of life.
  • Anxiety is normal; feeling constantly overwhelmed is not. Teens have a lot to be anxious about -- the prospect of independence is both exhilarating and terrifying, so some worrying is to be expected. But a teen who seems to be, or says they are, struggling daily with stress needs help.
  • Being upset for days after a bad experience is normal; more than two weeks is not. Teenagers tend to react dramatically when things go wrong. Adults know from experience that it's not the end of the world, but teens lack that perspective. It's normal for them to be in a bad mood for a few days after an upset, but to dwell on the problem for more than two weeks indicates they're struggling.

About Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D

Gregory Jantz has more than 25 years' experience in mental health counseling and is the founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, near Seattle, Wash. He is the best-selling author of more than 20 books on topics from depression to eating disorders.

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Ginny Grimsley

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