Question- how do you know if a student struggles w anxiety or depression w/out an identified diagnosis?

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Simplest and most accurate answer: You don’t.

Slightly more nuanced answer: Mental health can be tricky under the best of circumstances. Add teenage years in and it becomes even more complicated. There are specific diagnostic assessments that medical professionals use, but there are a few things a teacher might observe which *could* indicate a depressive or anxiety disorder. But again, teenage years…

A change in overall behavior and/demeanor. It can be sudden, but is more likely to be gradual over the course of several weeks. Acting out. Irritability. Sadness. Listlessness. Blank or seemingly numb.

Increasing absences or tardies. Avoidance of others when others seem open or welcoming. Increased requests to leave class for various reasons. Eating alone. Avoiding eye contact. Withdrawal from clubs or sports.

Decreased energy levels. Sleeping in class. Increased fidgeting. Changes in appetite. Sudden pallor. Rapid breathing. Increase in self-soothing behaviors (self-hugs, clenched hands, sighs, loud exhalations, pacing, rubbing hands or arms, etc). Decline in athletic performance. Slowed speech. Slowed body movements. Complaints of body aches, headaches, or migraines.

Slipping grades. Poor concentration. Inability to keep up or catch up. Turning in partially completed work or no work at all. Forgetfulness. Increasing or decreasing questions about due dates and deadlines. Decline in personal hygiene.

Self-harming behaviors. Talk of death or dying. Substance abuse.


GREAT answer HSM1- In HS, don’t forget substance abuse or increased substance abuse, perfectionism, at times increased or excessive chattiness or what is known as hyper verbal, lack of motivation, immaturity (what looks like), clinging to peers or adults, or the opposite withdrawn or isolating. Also, huge chip in the shoulder or what is known as mild or moderate agitation, hood up and held tight …simply put acting like an asshole.
Elementary age students have a very bizarre presentation. Nothing that most ppl would think. Aggression, elopement, climbing on furniture, hiding in small areas/under desk/in corner, hood up, distracted or what is known as preoccupied, biting nails, sucking on shirt or picking nose (nervous habits), irritability or agitation, defiance or non-compliance. And you’re right suicidal thoughts, thoughts of self-harm.


Get the counselor involved to see what is going on.

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