It may seem like an impossible task to know how your teen’s mental wellness is faring. After all, you’re not a doctor or psychologist. Where do you begin? Experts suggest keeping an eye on four things in particular: interest, energy, sleep and appetite.

Of course, all these areas are impacted by the physical transformations that happen during puberty. So you shouldn’t immediately think there’s a mental health issue if you see slight changes in one or even a couple of the items listed below. However, they should be temporary and not sudden or drastic. If the problem is chronic, then there may be an underlying condition, which could include depression, anxiety, ADHD or something else. That’s when it’s important to talk to your child to find out how they’re really doing—and perhaps even a health professional.


It’s natural as your child gets older that their hobbies change. But if there’s an abrupt rejection of activities they used to love, or they don’t have a desire to get involved in anything that used to give them joy, then you may want to dig a little deeper into what’s causing the shift.


Since your child was a toddler, you may have classified them as hyper or mellow. But puberty can certainly affect that. Don’t panic if your teen has lost their normal spunk or if they’re a bit more vibrant than they used to be. But if it’s a prolonged and severe change, then monitor it. A mental illness can make a teen feel constantly fatigued or the other extreme—restless.


While growth spurts often tire out teens and kids are notoriously hard to get out of bed, 92% of people with depression complain of sleep difficulties. And studies suggest sleep issues may not just be a symptom of mental illness but also a contributing factor. Signs your teenager isn’t getting good shuteye include bags under their eyes, bad skin and frequent illness. Learn more about the correlation of sleep and mental health and how to promote positive sleep habits here.


Pay attention to significant changes in eating habits or weight, which can be either gain or loss. Some people who struggle with mental illness experience decreased appetite, whereas others turn to food for comfort. In serious cases, this could be an indication of an eating disorder.

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