Teenagers are notorious for having labile emotions that often change rapidly from one state to the next. Whether due to hormonal changes, family problems, relationship issues, stress or the unique experiences of adolescenthood, teens can experience a range of emotions in the course of just a few hours. But just like adults, teens can experience emotional breakdowns when things get too heavy or they feel like they can't handle the pressure. An emotional breakdown is not a clinical term, however. The term usually refers to combined feelings of exhaustion, stress, depression and/or anxiety. Helping your teen deal with an emotional breakdown shows your support and concern and might help her get back on her feet.
Discuss your concerns with your teen. Set aside a quiet time to sit down and talk when you can be alone for an extended period of time. If he doesn't want to talk, don't force the issue, and don't offer unsolicited advice. But according to BBC Health, keeping the lines of communication open can be an important way of showing your support.
Spend time together doing something fun and enjoyable. You shouldn't spend all your time together talking about heavy emotional issues. In fact, your teen might appreciate the chance to get her mind off her worries and concerns. Let her choose how she might like to spend a weekend or evening with you. Enjoying time together can help her feel safe and supported and prevents rumination, says PBS' "This Emotional Life."
Encourage your teen to get enough sleep and to follow a healthy diet. Too much caffeine or sugar and too little sleep can exacerbate symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety. Purchase a variety of healthy snacks, like fruits and nuts, and avoid buying energy drinks or sugar-laden products. Try to ensure that your teen sticks to a regular bedtime and gets proper amounts of sleep.
Educate your teen about the effects of stress. Strong or conflicting emotions, just like academic pressures and social issues, can be a common cause of stress. Helping your teen understand the effects of stress is one of the most important ways parents can help, according to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Let him know that you are here to help if he feels overloaded. Tell him that he doesn't have to handle it all on his own.
Develop a daily schedule with your teen. Many times, teens experience breakdowns because they feel like they have too much on their plates and they don't know how to prioritize. Sit down and discuss what needs to be done and when. Put the most pressing items at the top of the list. Tell her to check off items as she completes them.
Consult a qualified mental health professional if your efforts don't result in positive changes. Sometimes, the situation can be overwhelming for both parents and teens, and there's no shame in seeking professional assistance. Ask your child's pediatrician or your health insurance company for a referral to a mental health provider who specializes in working with children and adolescents.
- BBC Health: Nervous Breakdown
- BBC Health: Mental and Emotional Health in the Teenage Years
- PBS: This Emotional Life: Adolescence: How to Help: Helping Your Teen
- Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: The Teen Years Explained: Teen Stress
- American Psychological Association: Identifying Signs of Stress in Your Children and Teens
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images