Anxiety Uncategorized

4 Symptoms of High Functioning Anxiety Among Teens  

High-functioning anxiety in teens often manifests as excessive worry, perfectionism, and overachievement. They may be successful and driven but struggle with constant nervousness, restlessness, and self-doubt. Physical symptoms like headaches, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances are common. Despite their outward achievements, these teens may secretly battle intense fear of failure and social anxiety. 


Seeing your teen constantly stressed and striving for perfection can be worrisome, especially when they seem to never relax.

On one hand, seeing a teen show passion and engagement would make any parent proud – but when their success is hiding dangerous trends such as overworking, self-doubt, and even self-harm, then it’s important to peek behind the curtain and figure out what’s going on.

This article explores the most common symptoms of high-functioning anxiety among teens. 


Understanding High-Functioning Anxiety 

Stress is not inherently a bad thing, but anxiety usually is.

Being overly anxious means stressing excessively, and usually over the small things. Too much stress can eat away at us, affecting our health, mood, and quality of life.  

Not all levels of anxiety result in an anxiety disorder. Mental health disorders are usually characterized by a lack of functioning or some form of impairment. However, some teens function just fine while experiencing anxiety. While they might not need a diagnosis, they still need help.  

You can function while anxious, but that won’t detract from the negative effects of long-term anxiety – especially on anxious teens, who are still in the middle of physical and mental development and might burn out before even reaching adulthood.   


Symptoms of High-Functioning Anxiety Among Teens 

Teens with high-functioning anxiety might be very outgoing, even aggressive, and seemingly get everything done the way they want.

But underneath the veneer of a Type A personality hides a neurotic and stressed mind. At first glance, high-functioning anxiety among teens can be hard to spot and easy to miss – but a closer look tells us more.

Here’s a closer look at some of the common symptoms of high-functioning anxiety among teens: 

Emotional Symptoms 

The emotional symptoms of high-functioning anxiety are the same as any other form of anxiety.

Teens with high-functioning anxiety experience persistent fears or worries, often to an excessive degree. They also feel tense most of the time, restless, and unable to relax.

Teens with high-functioning anxiety might realize that they’re worrying too much, but that often becomes another thing to worry about.  

Cognitive Symptoms 

Despite their high-functioning, teens with anxiety do struggle cognitively.

They overthink about the future, set themselves too many “what-if” scenarios, excessively plan or think about future outcomes, and strive for perfection to the degree that they scrap perfectly good work or don’t allow themselves to finish personal projects.  

Behavioral Symptoms 

As a result of their high-functioning anxiety, many teens experience episodes of procrastination due to being worried about imperfection, followed by an intense work crunch.

They are more likely to say yes to everyone and no to no one, leading to fully packed schedules.

They saw approval and reassurances from everyone.  

Physical Symptoms 

Anxiety can have a direct impact on a teen’s health, most clearly seen in a lack of sleep.

Restlessness and insomnia are common in teens with high-functioning anxiety, resulting in physical and mental fatigue.

They might also be easily startled and more likely to get sick (and less likely to call in a sick day).  


Impact on Daily Life 

On the outside, high-functioning anxiety allows teens to set and meet nearly any goal they choose. They’re driven – and it shows.  

But they’re often driven by fear. Fear of failure, fear of not meeting expectations, fear of falling short, fear of being found out (imposter syndrome), and fear of not being enough. Teens experiencing high-functioning anxiety might be one big mistake or one bad day away from experiencing a panic attack or a mental breakdown.  

Socially, teens with high-functioning anxiety have a hard time turning down an invitation, even if they don’t really want to be there. They’re afraid of driving people away, of saying no, and are much more likely to be people-pleasers to their own detriment. They tend to have full schedules all the time.  

Privately, teens who struggle with high-functioning anxiety often pick up a number of quirks as potential coping mechanisms for their anxiety, including nervous chatter, nervous habits (lip biting, knuckle cracking), procrastination and crunch work, repetitive behavior (rocking, repeating phrases, counting objects), an overloaded schedule, a need for validation and affirmation, physical fatigue, restlessness, and a much higher potential for substance abuse.  


Coping Strategies and Support 

Recognizing a high-functioning, anxious teen isn’t hard once you know what to look for. If you see your loved one or best friend struggle underneath the surface, consider reaching out to help.  

It’s not always easy for someone with high-functioning anxiety to agree that they need help. While they might agree that they’re anxious, they might fear losing their drive if they start addressing their fears.  

In other cases, they might not want to recognize that their thought processes are driven by anxiety or that trying to get help for their sources of “motivation” is an overreaction.  

Despite their achievements, teens who struggle with high-functioning anxiety are ultimately struggling with anxiety.

It can shorten their lives, put them at greater risk of maladaptive coping, and worsen their relationships. Getting help can change that.  


Teen Anxiety Treatment 

Are you concerned about your teen’s constant worry and stress despite their apparent success?

Imagine a future where they can achieve their goals and, most importantly, be happy without the burden of anxiety holding them back.

At Visions Treatment Centers, our expert team specializes in helping teens address anxiety through individualized, compassionate, and effective treatment programs—contact us today to learn more about teen anxiety and our treatment modalities. 



High-functioning anxiety in teens often manifests as excessive worry, perfectionism, and overachievement.

Despite their outward successes and driven nature, they may struggle with constant nervousness, restlessness, and self-doubt, accompanied by physical symptoms like headaches, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances.

Teens with high-functioning anxiety might not seem to need help, but they’re more likely to struggle with the downsides of their neurotic side in the long term.  


5 Symptoms of Anxiety in Teen Girls

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health conditions in the world. Symptoms of anxiety in teen girls include intrusive worrying, which can interfere with daily activities and concentration; physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, and fatigue; and social withdrawal. Recognizing these symptoms of anxiety in teen girls early can help in seeking appropriate support and treatment.

Anxiety in teen girls can be overwhelming, affecting their daily lives and relationships. Persistent worrying, physical symptoms like headaches and fatigue, and social withdrawal are common signs that often go unnoticed.

This article explores the common symptoms of anxiety in teen girls.

Symptoms of Anxiety in Teen Girls

Anxiety in teen girls often manifests as physical symptoms like headaches and stomach aches, emotional symptoms such as persistent worrying and low mood, behavioral symptoms such as avoidance and irritability, cognitive symptoms such as loss of focus or memory problems, and social symptoms such as isolation and withdrawal. Anxiety symptoms can significantly impact a teen’s daily life and overall well-being. Here are some of the most common symptoms of anxiety in teen girls:

Physical Symptoms

Despite being a mental health condition, anxiety can also induce physical symptoms. In fact, panic attacks, which are a common symptom of a severe anxiety episode or a panic disorder, often feel like heart attacks.

People who experience panic attacks for the first time may call an emergency department, mistaking it for a heart attack. In both cases, you can experience severe chest pain, feelings of impending doom and sudden, inexplicable shortness of breath.

But you don’t have to experience a panic attack to experience some of the physical symptoms of anxiety. Whether acutely or as long-term symptoms, anxiety can come with:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Nervous sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Muscle tension, headaches, and neck pain
  • Upset stomach or nausea

Emotional Symptoms

Feelings of worry and dread characterize anxiety disorders, but they can differ from condition to condition.

For example, obsessive-compulsive disorder is a form of anxiety disorder where discomfort stems from an intrusive obsession, coupled with a compulsive, sometimes ritualized behavior that can distract from or satisfy the obsession. In other cases, like social phobia (social anxiety disorder), a main emotional symptom might be the recurring worry that other people are judging your every thought and action.

Other emotional symptoms aside from worry include:

  • Feelings of apprehension or dread
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of being on edge or constantly tense
  • Sense of impending danger or panic
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Difficulty managing fear
  • Behavioral Symptoms

Behavioral symptoms describe the actions some people take to help cope with their anxieties, or because of these anxieties. It’s normal to act on our fears and worries – we want to avoid the things we’re scared of or distract ourselves from our fears.

But sometimes, especially when an anxiety is irrational, intrusive, and recurring, those behaviors can come across as strange or they can negatively impact our day-to-day life, such as anxiety-related self-harm or sleeplessness. Some examples of behavioral symptoms tied to anxiety disorders in teen girls include:

  • Avoidance of situations that trigger anxiety
  • Ritualistic behaviors or compulsions to reduce anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
  • Difficulty with daily activities or schoolwork
  • Seeking reassurance from others excessively
  • Nail-biting or other nervous habits
  • Withdrawal from social activities or relationships

Cognitive Symptoms

Cognitive symptoms are the ways anxiety can affect a teen’s thinking, including their ability to focus, to retain information, and to use that information when making decisions.

Anxiety can negatively influence our decision-making, fill us with dread when there’s no reason to worry, or make it harder to focus on the task at hand.

Anxiety also often goes hand-in-hand with catastrophizing, wherein you get an intrusive thought about a negative “what-if” scenario, and let that scenario run wild in your mind. Rumination is another common cognitive symptom of anxiety, wherein you repeatedly think about distressing situations without finding a solution to break out of the cycle.

In teens, certain social media usage can make the cognitive symptoms of anxiety worse, through “doomscrolling”. Algorithms feed users the content they’re looking for the most, and during bad bouts of anxiety, teens might inadvertently seek out negative or hateful content. Other cognitive symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Excessive worry or rumination
  • Catastrophic thinking or expecting the worst outcome
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Intrusive thoughts or images
  • Racing thoughts
  • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
  • Heightened sensitivity to criticism or perceived threats

Social Symptoms

Social symptoms of anxiety in teens often manifest as avoidance of social interactions and activities, stemming from fear of judgment or embarrassment.

Teens experiencing anxiety symptoms might want to isolate themselves and can have a harder time maintaining friendships with other teens. For some teens with anxiety, social situations can become incredibly distressing, such as speaking in class or attending social gatherings. These symptoms can severely impact a teen’s social development and overall quality of life:

  • Fear of embarrassment or humiliation in social situations
  • Avoidance of social gatherings or public speaking
  • Difficulty communicating assertively or expressing oneself
  • Feeling misunderstood or alienated from peers
  • Overanalyzing social interactions or past events

Teen Anxiety Treatment

Anxiety disorders are overwhelming. For teen girls, anxiety disorders can heavily affect their academic and social lives; teens with anxiety are more likely to struggle at school, trail behind their peers, and suffer worse outcomes in life.

At Visions Treatment Centers, we specialize in helping teens manage their anxiety through personalized inpatient treatment and compassionate long-term care, involving friends and family members in the process. Discover how our expert team can support your teen in overcoming anxiety and reclaiming their life—schedule a consultation with Visions Treatment Centers today.


Recognizing and addressing anxiety in teen girls is crucial. Early intervention can prevent the escalation of symptoms and improve their quality of life, helping them learn to cope with anxiety, adopt healthy self-care strategies, and leverage support from their peers and family members.

Parents, friends, and educators can help by being vigilant to potential signs of anxiety and providing timely support by encouraging therapy and treatment. Learning more about the symptoms of anxiety in teen girls can make an early intervention possible.


The Link Between Screen Time and Anxiety in Teens

When it comes to screen time and digital living, the cat is out of the bag – and there is no way to go back. Teens today will grow up in an internet age and will be expected to participate in what has essentially become another vector for human life. All age groups today spend some portion of their lives in a virtual world, whether on social media or in smaller online communities. 

This has its advantages and disadvantages – but for teens especially, there seems to be a dangerous uptick in feelings of depression and anxiety correlating to the meteoric rise of the Internet. Can screen time explain why teens today seem to struggle with an overall lower psychological well-being than previous generations? 

The Extent of Screen Time

Screen time statistics may have peaked around COVID-19, but they have not gone down much since then. Teens spend upwards of 9 hours a day on their screens, while the global average among people between the ages of 16 and 64 has gone up to 6 hours and 37 minutes. 

While the overall growth in screen time among the general population has only increased modestly since 2013 – by a grand total of 18 more minutes a day – the growth has been more drastic among younger demographics. 

But what does this ultimately mean? How do screens impact anxiety? The research here is still quite young, and the results aren’t conclusive. Some studies point to a definite correlation between increases in screen time and an increased rate of depressive diagnoses. However, screen time was also found to correlate with socioeconomic factors, meaning poorer households usually spent more time online. In other words, it’s easy to pick a correlating factor and attribute a rise in anxiety to it. 

But today’s teens are also more politically engaged and increasingly nihilistic, having gone through multiple record-breaking recessions while facing an increasingly competitive market, lower wages, the looming threat of AI and its impact on creative labor, and rising academic pressure when compared to previous generations. 

Screen time may help us quantify just how rapidly teens are willing to escape to digital worlds to help deal with other life stressors. Yet there are two definite factors that are impacted by high screen time and result in increased stress and anxiety: sleep and physical activity

The Relationship Between Screen Time and Anxiety

Studies from the US, UK, and China have found that increased screen time may result in increased risk of anxiety and depression – one study specifically looked at the relationship between screen time, sleep quality, and physical activity, confirming the hypothesis that increases in screen time can lead to reduced sleep and poorer sleep quality, as well as reduced physical activity. This study also found that the impact on physical activity had a higher impact on stress and anxiety than sleep did

In other words, increased screen time often means less time spent moving, playing, and exercising, which often contributes to and exacerbates feelings of stress and anxiety in children and teens. This effect significantly worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, which also increased feelings of anxiety due to social isolation, fear of infection, few face-to-face interactions, and financial distress. 

The study also found that increasing or decreasing a teen’s screen time did not necessarily help mitigate their anxiety. Instead, high screen time could be used as an indicator of stresses that might cause or relate to feelings of anxiety and point towards other factors that can help combat teen anxiety, including protective social factors (a robust support system, healthy family relationship, strong presence within the community) and physical factors (more exercise, better sleep quality). 

Screen time isn’t always the villain, either. Studies also found that time spent playing with friends online also helped reduce symptoms of anxiety and that socializing online can be helpful in managing stress, whether it’s through video games or social media. 

Strategies for Healthy Screen Use

Healthy screen use differs on a case-by-case basis. Screen time itself may not always be a good indicator of a teen’s mental health, but excessively high screen time should give parents a reason to pause and consider if their teen is meeting their other needs, especially their physical needs. 

Some teens prefer to socialize online rather than physically and may have a harder time socializing in person due to long-distance friendships or because of conflicting schedules. Your teen’s screen time might not be concerning if they are otherwise managing their academic responsibilities, getting enough sleep, and spending time on physical activities that they enjoy, whether it’s the gym or the outdoors. 

If your teen’s screen time is interfering with their health, however, consider instituting a house rule of limiting screen time to one hour before bed. This drastically reduces the impact that screen time can have on sleep and rest and helps your teen better manage stress. 


Does screen time contribute to poorer teen mental health? The short answer is yes, partially. It cannot be denied that there are negative effects of extended exposure to social media and online culture. 

However, it may also be somewhat of a chicken-and-egg situation. Teens with low markers of self-esteem and existing mental health problems are more likely to spend more time online and are more susceptible to the negative side of social media and the Internet. On the other hand, a robust offline life, social support, healthy family environment, and other protective factors help limit a teen’s screen time and allow them to reap more of the benefits of an online world. 

We can’t keep kids off their phones. But we can help address their mental well-being in a way that might limit the negative impact of spending too much time online and help them find experiences worth chasing outside of the digital world. Our residential treatment options at Visions help teens with severe mental health problems digitally detox and spend time focusing on their emotional and physical wellbeing while providing individualized treatments for depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and teen substance use. Get in touch with us today to find out more. 


8 Common Reasons Teens Use Drugs

About a fifth of 10th graders and a third of 12th graders have reported using an illicit substance in the past year. While alcohol and cannabis usage are highest, teens also illegally use prescription medication, painkillers, nicotine, and other drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines. What draws teens to drugs?

Whether it’s alcohol or heroin, early drug use can have a devastating effect on a teen’s long-term health – today more than ever, as more and more counterfeit pills and designer drugs feature extraordinarily dangerous drugs like fentanyl. 

But the keyword here is can. Many teens experiment with a few substances during high school or college, and don’t end up addicted. Others, however, are not so lucky. 

A lack of knowledge and understanding of the risk of drug use, natural curiosity, and the glamorization of drug use are some of the reasons why many teens are drawn to substances like cannabis, alcohol, and prescription drugs. A lack of self-preservation – or more accurately, an inability to appropriately gauge and process risk – also help explain why teens are much more eager to try things than adults might be. Let’s explore some other reasons teens use drugs and what that might mean for communities. 

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is a classic. You see someone popular do something, so you feel compelled to do it too. Not all teens will follow the leader – but in certain groups, especially tight-knit cliques, where drug use might be expected to a degree, it becomes normal to smoke a bowl or have a beer while underage. 

The desire to fit in is stronger with teens than adults, partially because the teen brain is more incentivized to seek and form social connections than the adult brain. 

Teenage Curiosity

Are teens really more curious than adults? Maybe. It would be more accurate to say that teen psychology is hardwired towards experimentation – teens are at a point in their personal development where they still need to figure out who, and what, they are. 

Add to that a level of carelessness that doesn’t go away until the mid-20s, and it helps explain why teens tend to be a bit more daring than their older counterparts. This goes for drug use, as well. 


Not all teen drug use is fueled by whimsy. Some teens turn to certain drugs – like alcohol, or cannabis – as a relaxation tool. Others use prescription amphetamines or drugs like Ritalin to help them concentrate, stay awake to study longer, or overcome academic pressure. 

A big problem with self-medication is that it often utilizes an addictive substance to temporarily distract from a long-term problem. The result, in too many cases, is teen addiction. 

Rebellion Against Authority

Some teenagers use drugs as a form of rebellion against parental or societal norms, seeking independence and control over their lives. This cliché has its own psychological purpose – to help teens figure out what makes them who they are in spite of their environment, or in opposition to it. 

Drugs are far from the only way to do that, but being so taboo while simultaneously being accessible makes them a common tool for rebellion, whether in the form of a few beers and cigarettes after school or something stronger. 

Ease of Access

Speaking of accessibility, easy access to drugs is another contributing factor. Prescription medication can often be found at home, or while visiting a relative. Alcohol and cigarettes can be stolen from the pantry or acquired through an adult patsy at the nearest convenience store. Some drugs are harder to come by, but surveys show that most teens know where to find nearly any drug they want (through the Internet). 

Media and Pop Culture

Media is powerful. It helps shape societal norms and culture. For example, underage drinking is tacitly accepted – it’s often considered a rite of passage, or a coming-of-age trope in shows and movies. It wasn’t too long ago that the same could be said about cigarettes. Many celebrities openly drink, smoke, and use illicit substances. For some teens, knowing that their favorite pop star has done a few lines before a show might empower them to give it a try the next time the opportunity presents itself at a party. 

Ignorance of the Dangers of Drug Use

Teens know about hangovers and drug overdoses. Some teens might even know about the importance of staying hydrated while using amphetamines or other stimulants. But they might not be aware of the severity of the long-term effects of certain drugs, or the power of addiction. 

Teens might not be aware that alcohol withdrawal can kill, or that long-term drinking causes permanent neuropathy and pain. They might not know that many prescription drugs sold illegally are often counterfeit, and laced with powerful drugs that can cause a swift overdose death before the paramedics have the chance to arrive at the scene. Many teens don’t realize that vaping still presents serious risks for the lungs. 

Family History

A family history of substance abuse can increase a teen’s susceptibility to drug experimentation due to genetic and environmental factors. If alcoholism is a problem in the family, then a teen is more likely to struggle with alcohol addiction than their friends, even if they start drinking at the same time. If teens are used to certain kinds of drug use at home, they’re far more likely to continue that same drug use in their own adult lives. 

It’s crucial for parents, guardians, and educators to engage in open and non-judgmental conversations with teenagers about the risks associated with drug use and to provide support and resources for healthy coping strategies and alternatives.

If you or a loved one are struggling with drug use, then seeking help is important. We at Visions offer residential care programs for teens with drug problems and offer individualized treatment plans to help teens manage and overcome addiction. Give us a call today to learn more about our programs and treatment modalities. 


How to Do a Drug Intervention with Your Teenager

How to Do a Drug Intervention with Your Teenager

Description: Let’s discuss the dos and don’ts of how to do a drug intervention with your teen. Learn how to provide the support needed to address addiction issues.

Summary: Talking to your teen about drugs can be difficult. Staging a drug intervention is even harder. We will focus on the practical advice on how to approach the issue of drugs and addiction and help guide you and your teenager towards a path of long-term recovery.

Introduction: We often hear about how today’s teens aren’t staying out as late, getting into as much trouble, or even using drugs as often as the teens of yesteryear. But that doesn’t mean our kids aren’t at risk. Over one in ten high school students have used illicit or injection drugs, like cocaine, heroin, meth, or ecstasy. Over one in eight students have misused prescription opioids. 

Furthermore, today’s designer drugs and illicit opioids are more likely than ever before to cause overdoses and deaths, due a flood of fentanyl on the black market. Drug use among teens is also associated with a much higher risk of sexual violence, mental health issues, and suicidal ideation. 

If you’re worried that your teen might be taking drugs – whether it’s marijuana or a lab-made party drug – you’re not alone. If your teen’s behavior has been changing rapidly, accompanied by physical signs or symptoms of drug use, then you might be thinking about staging an intervention and getting them the help, they need. Here’s what you need to know first. 

Dos and Don’ts of How to Do a Drug Intervention 

Drug interventions don’t usually hinge on a single successful intervention, but starting things off on the right foot can make a big difference in the long-term. It’s important to reiterate and be consistent with your priorities. What are you accusing your teen of? What do you want them to do? How are you planning to help? 

  • DO talk to a professional. 
  • DON’T go into an intervention alone, or without discussing the specifics with your family members. 
  • DO be sure that your teen is struggling with an addiction to begin with. 
  • DON’T demonize or come across as judgmental. 
  • DO discuss your treatment ideas or wishes with your teen. 
  • DON’T tell them to get help alone, or else. 

Interventions often go wrong when parents or friends approach their loved one at the wrong time, with the wrong attitude, or mismatched and vague goals. Be sure everyone’s on the same page and pick the best time and place to have an adult, lucid conversation with your teen. 

Talk to a Professional

Coordinating an intervention can be difficult, especially without any prior experience. If it’s your first time, it helps to talk to a professional. They will guide you through making a checklist specific to you and your teen’s circumstances, and guide you through the process step-by-step. 

Coordinate with Friends and Family

If you’re approaching your teen as a group, discuss what you plan to say and ask beforehand. There should be no surprises as to what anyone’s going to say, or how they’re going to act. If there are differences of opinion on how to settle the matter, deal with those differences before the intervention starts, and make sure you’re on the same page. 

Be Sure It’s a Substance Use Issue

Evidence goes a long way. Addiction is a serious issue, but some of the telltale signs can also just be a sign of a different problem, such as depression, insomnia, or an eating disorder. 

Don’t Demonize or Judge

Even kids know that drugs are bad. Teens typically aren’t going to shy away from drug use solely out of moral reasons – and telling them something they already know won’t help, except to distance yourself from your teen and take the moral high ground. Be productive with your approach, focusing on getting your teen to agree to treatment.  

Discuss Treatment Options Together

At some point, it may be important to draw the line and tell your teen that you’re sending them to a treatment place for their own good. But until that point, include your teen in the process of selecting and talking about treatment. It helps when they feel that they’re actively taking steps to get better, rather than being told what to do. 

Emphasize Support and Family

Your teen should know that they’re never alone in all of this. Addiction can be crushingly lonely, even if you’re otherwise surrounded by friends and family in your day-to-day life. Emphasizing that you’ll be with them and in their corner throughout the treatment process can help, especially if you choose to get involved in treatments, such as through family therapy. 

Substance Abuse Treatment with Visions

Drug interventions are often the first step towards long-term teen addiction recovery – and the first step for a family or group of friends to begin their journey as a support network for their loved one. As such, many people often have questions about staging an intervention, and the steps that follow. At Visions, we hear many such questions. 

Many parents wonder what common mistakes to avoid during a drug intervention with a teen. An important one is not to treat it as an opportunity to lecture. Drug addiction may be a serious mistake, but it’s a mistake nonetheless, and not one that most people – especially teens – ever consciously choose to make. While it might feel good to get certain things off your chest, talking down to your teen can actively hurt your relationship during recovery, and undermine your ability to support them. 

Another big question is how to be sure that it’s an addiction problem. This one is tough to answer. A specialist will be better able to help you figure out what you might want to do, given your circumstances or specific information. General tips include taking notes of changes in behavior, keeping stock of potential substances in the house (such as prescription pills), and if you’re up for snooping around, looking for potential hiding places around the house. 

Finally, parents often wonder what comes next after a drug intervention. Most of the time, the initial intervention is basically a conversation – which is followed by another conversation, and another. The goals might change over time. For some parents, it’ll be to see noticeable improvements in their teen’s behavior and promises to stop using. Sometimes, drug use doesn’t automatically mean drug addiction. In other cases, however, treatment may be necessary if a teen needs help. The goal, then, would be to find a treatment center or clinic that they’re comfortable with, or are willing to go to. 

You don’t always need to ask your teens to go to rehab. In many cases, an outpatient program can provide enough support for your teen to successfully recover from addiction. To find out more, check out our intensive outpatient program for adolescents at Visions. 


Whether it’s the initial intervention or a subsequent intervention after a relapse, it’s important to set goals and keep an eye out for potential treatment programs for teens. Setting up an initial intervention can be daunting, and it’s normal to be worried about adverse outcomes or negative reactions. It helps to work with a professional through every step of the way, and to have a clear goal in mind – such as an outpatient treatment program. If you want to learn more about planning and setting up a drug intervention for your teen, contact us at Visions. 


Does My Child Need a Therapist?

Has your teen been acting strange or peculiar? Are you worried they might be depressed or struggling with some form of anxiety disorder? Has your teen’s mood shifted an awful lot lately, or are you simply worried about the changes they’ve been going through? If any of these thoughts have crossed your mind, then you may be wondering, “Does my child need a therapist?”

Unlike most adults, teens are just beginning to enter the long maturation phase of their life, which involves many twists and turns, and demands a lot of patience, especially from parents. It can be difficult sometimes to differentiate between “normal teen behavior” and something strange or worrying.

Does My Child Need a Therapist? What are the Signs?

There are still clear lines drawn between signs of potential mental health problems and healthy teen behavior. Recognizing these symptoms and reacting accordingly can help ensure that your teen gets the care they need, should they need it. Here are a few signs to keep an eye out for.

Social Interaction and Isolation

Not all teens are heavily social. In fact, people, in general, find themselves on some point across a spectrum of introversion and extroversion, where some people are more naturally inclined towards becoming social butterflies, while others prefer the company of just a friend or two.

But if your teen’s social inclinations have changed drastically and rapidly – especially if they are trending towards total isolation – your teen may be going through more than just an emotional rough patch. A common sign of severe depression or a growing anxiety disorder is preferring solitude – not just occasionally, but to an unhealthy and rapidly advancing degree.

Running Away

This is another red flag and one that is obvious to most parents. Teens do sometimes dramatically announce their intentions to run or flee in the heat of the moment, but it takes an extra push and a lot more commitment to pack that bag and run.

Running from home isn’t a dead giveaway that your teen is struggling with any particular mental health issue, of course. But it is a sign that something’s gone wrong, whether it’s the crowd they hang out with or their own perspective of how life is turning out.

Kids run away to hide, to escape, or to start fresh. Working with a therapist, even without a specific diagnosis or any other symptoms, can simply help you and your teen improve your communication skills, better convey your respective issues to one another, and prevent another runaway situation.

Severe Dietary Changes

Is your teen eating a lot more? Are they barely eating anything at all? Have they become extremely picky with the food they eat – not just making a switch to veganism, but something entirely different?

Food can be a big red flag for mental health issues – eating disorders are some of the most common and most troubling mental health problems, are associated with a host of other mental health conditions (such as severe depression), and can lead to a number of dangerous, and even fatal physical health problems.

Chronic overeating, self-induced starvation, total loss of appetite, or a sudden shift towards a harsh restriction diet should clue you in on the idea that something’s wrong, whether it’s a personal response to extreme stress (sudden loss or increase in appetite) or part of a more complex issue (such as drug use, or body dysmorphia and related self-image problems).

Death and Nihilism

A casual relationship with the concepts and aesthetics of death is nothing new for teens, but there’s a difference between an interest in the macabre and continuous, disturbing references to death – particularly one’s own death and fantasies about life (for others) after dying.

Talking about your own death, making frequent jokes or references to suicide, or thinking out loud about feeling superficial or unnecessary are common signs of suicidal ideation, a major symptom of severe depressive disorders, such as major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder.

If your teen has thought of committing suicide before, they might feel reluctant to tell you about it. If your teen’s thoughts about death are becoming more frequent and sounding more and more like thinly veiled cries for help, respond by getting help.

Signs of Self-Harm

Some forms of self-harm are more obvious than others, such as wrist cuts (made perpendicular to the bone) or burns. Others are more difficult to spot or more abstract, ranging from harmful levels of exercise to extreme risk-taking behavior, such as near-fatal thrill-seeking, drug use, deliberately unprotected sex with strangers, discontinuing their medication, and more.

Self-harm does not always mean a person is suicidal. However, they are more likely to commit suicide. Self-harm might be a form of emotional release or simply an outlet to feel some type of extreme emotion due to depression and anhedonia (lack of any joy).

Talk To Your Child

It could be argued that your teen should be the only arbiter of whether they should go to therapy.

However, the sad fact remains that most mental health issues continue to be stigmatized, which can keep people from seeking out the help they need, even when it is offered to them.

If you are struggling financially, your teen might also worry about the financial implications of seeking therapy and might refuse to get care because they would feel like a burden to the family.

Bringing the topic up with your teen might lead them to shut down or react irritably. But that’s no reason not to address your concerns. If you worry about your teen and feel that they should consider therapy, the simplest option is to talk to them about it. Perhaps they have an explanation for their behavior that you might not have realized. Perhaps their symptoms are entirely situational, and what they need is an intervention of a different kind, such as contacting the school board about extreme instances of victimization, assault, or cyberbullying.

When Talking to Your Teen Isn’t Enough

If they aren’t, or if your teen isn’t cooperating, there are other ways to seek help. Talk to your teen’s teachers and student guidance counselors, or consult a professional therapist and discuss your teen’s behavior and the potential for an intervention.

When a child gets badly hurt, our first instinct is to seek professional help – urgent care clinics, emergency rooms, and nearby medical assistance. The same should go for any crisis of mental health, as well. The mind can get hurt or sick just like the body, and there’s often no one to blame for it. Get help as soon as you can. Visions Treatment Centers is here when you’re ready.


Behavioral Health Educational Seminar: Complex Approaches for Complex Disorders

On Friday, September 28, we had the honor of co-hosting a Behavioral Health Educational Seminar, addressing Treatment Resistant Mood Disorders, and BiPolar Disorders. We co-hosted the seminar with Austen Riggs and PCH Treatment at the beautiful Victorian in Santa Monica, California.

Eric Plakun, MD, DFAPA, FACPsych and Director of Admissions and Public Relations at Austen Riggs Center spoke about A Psychodynamic Approach to Treatment Resistant Mood Disorders.

David J. Miklowitz, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry in the Divisions of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute and the Bipolar Treatment Consultant at PCH Treatment Center spoke about Bipolar Disorder: Current Thinking About Diagnosis and Treatment. Dr. Miklowitz is also a Senior Clinical Research Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University.

These informational seminars are a wonderful way to build upon one’s education, building upon the ever-changing information surrounding mental health care. Things will change with the new DSM-V slated to come out in the next year. We are incredibly fortunate to have so many knowledgable professionals in our midst.

Check out a few photos from the event. I must say, aside from incredible information from the speakers, the food was out of this world.


Transparency in Parenting: Talking About Your Past

There are tons of us parents in recovery, I’m sure, who have children who will eventually want to know the whats, whens, and hows of our pasts. It does bring up some interesting questions, though: What should I say, how much should I share, et cetera, and bodes the ultimate question: If we expect our children to be honest with us, doesn’t it behoove us to do the same? Granted, a full drunk-alogue or drug-alogue is certainly not okay, but an honest sharing of our trials and tribulations while maintaining healthy parent-child boundaries can have some real value. Allowing our children to glimpse our fallibility shows them that we are human, imperfect, and capable of making mistakes; it provides them with a sense of transparency about our lives and creates a natural teaching moment. In the end, it will provide a basis with how they’ll interact with us as they enter adulthood.
Some key do’s and don’ts of talking about your teens about past experiences:
Don’t avoid or change the subject.
Don’t lie or fabricate the truth.
Do keep communication lines open whether your teen is acting appropriately or not.
Do always tell them the truth.
Do talk about your past with appropriate boundaries and common sense.
None of this is easy, but if we take the gauntlet of honesty and integrity and provide an open door of communication for our teens, we can foster stronger, deeper, more meaningful parent-child relationships, especially during the tough times.
If you are a parent of a teen in trouble, or know someone who is, an adolescent treatment facility may be the best step to opening the door to healing and rebuilding the parent-child bond.


Adolescent Prescription Drug Abuse

The Center for Disease Control has issued an urgent call for action over the abuse of pain medication, which has risen over 111% from 2004 to 2008. According to documentation from ER visits, abuse of oxycodone has risen 152% and hydrocodone abuse has risen 123%. Teen Prescription-drug-abuse now rivals marijuana abuse in this country. Pills like xanax, oxycontin, adderall, and klonopin are frequently abused by teens, who obtain them from friends, their parents medicine cabinets, and online.
The non-medical use of prescription drugs is an epidemic equal to the abuse of illegal drugs in this country. Parents should take prescription drug abuse seriously and provide teens with the tools necessary to fight drug addiction. Teens lives don’t have to be ruined by prescription drug abuse. There are places that offer a long-term solution for teens and their families by providing individual, group, and family counseling, sober high school, and long term aftercare solutions, such as intensive outpatient programs. Prescription drug abuse is a serious problem and teen drug rehab offers a serious solution.


Teen Binge Drinking

Teen binge drinking is sometimes only regarded as a “phase” in a teen’s life, but many factors indicate that teen binge drinking is something to be taken seriously. In a recent study of teens headed to college, teens who had consumed alcohol at early ages were more likely to have drinking problems in college, and their class ranking in high school had an inverse relationship to how much they would drink.
Teen binge drinking is something to be taken seriously, as it is often a precursor to more severe problems down the road. Teens who drink often abuse prescription medication, which can be a deadly combination. Teens drinking at early ages are at risk for having a lifetime of alcohol and drug related problems. Teen rehab works to stop the problem in its tracks and offers teens a chance to find healthy tools to deal with emotional and behavioral challenges. Teens with alcohol problems aren’t damaged, or worse than teens that don’t have alcohol problems, but they do need help in finding ways to deal with their personal challenges.

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