As a parent, it can be difficult to recognize the early signs of depression and anxiety in your teenager. Marissa Leslie, MD, psychiatrist and medical director for Adventist HealthCare Behavioral Health & Wellness Services in Rockville, provides answers to commonly asked questions about teens and mental health.


Q: My teen doesn’t show any interest in school or extracurricular activities. Is this a passing phase?

Dr. Leslie: Withdrawal from normal activities, such as school and extracurricular activities your teen once enjoyed, could be a sign of depression. Ask your teen about his or her experience to help get to the root of the problem. Triggers for depression can include body and self-image issues, bullying or pressure to perform academically. If talking to your child does not help, contact a mental health professional.

Q: My teen is very competitive at school and gets extremely anxious preparing for exams. This causes him to be extremely irritable with family members. What can I do to help ease his anxiety?

Dr. Leslie: It’s normal for your teen to feel anxious sometimes, but when his anxiety becomes excessive and interferes with his ability to function at home or at school, it’s important to seek professional help. His anxiety could be caused by a number of factors, including pressure at school or bullying.

Q: I noticed a change in my teen’s eating habits and behavior during the past several weeks. She is eating much less than usual and often skips meals entirely. Could she have an eating disorder?

Dr. Leslie: If your teen is limiting food intake for an extended period of time and there is a noticeable decline in her energy level and mood, she might have an eating disorder such as anorexia. These disorders affect girls’ and boys’ emotional and physical health, leading to potentially life-threatening consequences if they are not treated by a mental health professional.

Does your teen need help? Call Adventist HealthCare Behavioral Health at 800-204-8600 to schedule an outpatient care appointment.