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Home Alone for Summer: Five Signs of Emotional Distress

For many teens, summer days are filled with fun and freedom. But even during the sunny summer months, teenagers can experience isolation, hormonal changes, packed schedules, friendships beginning and ending, and the stress of a near-constant digital presence.

Keep your teen healthy this summer by learning to recognize these signs of social or emotional stress:

Change in sleep cycles: In the summertime, extra freedom in the evenings and no school in the morning often results in changing sleep cycles. Playing games, texting and social media activity can lead to late bed times and sleeping in, but drastic changes in your teen’s sleep schedule can be a sign of added distress.

Changes in appetite: Whether your teen is suddenly overeating or experiencing a loss of appetite, food is often used to mask discomfort or boredom. Over time, both can pose serious health concerns.

Moody behavior: There are ups and downs, hormonal cycles and plenty of transitions throughout the teen years, but if a pattern of increased irritability, feeling down or heightened emotional responses such as unexplained tearfulness develop, these could be signs of underlying emotional distress.

Troubles with concentration: When school is out, decreased concentration in your teen may be more difficult to notice. Consistent difficulty focusing could be a flag for distress or depression. While trouble concentrating could be due to minor stress or an undesirable task, watch for consistent trouble focusing in your teen.

Suicidal thoughts: If your child is having thoughts of killing or hurting themselves, or wishing they didn’t exist, or thinking that life would be better without them, do not wait for a pattern on this red flag. Seek help immediately.

Resources are available through Lines for Life, which offer multiple contact points:

• Visit

• Text ‘teen2teen’ to 839863

• Call 1-877-968-8491, a 24-hour hotline

If you feel your teen’s safety is at risk, tell someone, go to the nearest emergency department, or dial 911.

Good days and bad days happen during the school year and throughout summer, and it is important to watch for patterns. If your teen develops a pattern of behavior that concerns you, consult his or her health care provider.