Teenagers naturally face many challenges and pressures on the road to adulthood, and it can be difficult for parents to tell the difference between typical teen moodiness and loneliness. Try to spend as much time as possible with your teen, and talk to her about what's going on in her life. Being an involved parent will help you determine how she's really feeling.
According to the Women's and Children's Health Network, there are many possible causes of teen loneliness. For example, If a teen is being bullied or teased, he may feel lonely. Losing a friend or loved one can also cause lonely feelings, as can moving to a new school. If you have recently divorced or separated from your teen's other parent, this can trigger feelings of loneliness or isolation. Teens who are coping with a serious illness that causes them to miss school or their favorite activities can also feel lonely.
Teens who are lonely may seem shy and unsure of themselves. A lonely teen may seem generally sad and withdrawn, or she may not seem to know how to handle herself in social situations. Anxiety can also be a sign of loneliness. A lonely teen may seem uninterested in things her peers like, and she may even avoid others, according to Janis R. Bullock, an early childhood education professor at Montana State University, in an article on the Gulf Bend Center's website.
Lonely teens may become lonely adults. They may have trouble making friends and feel sad, alienated and bored, Bullock says. If a teen is lonely, she may not learn from the peer relationships and interactions that she needs to form healthy relationships in the future.
How to Help
Encourage your teen to talk about his feelings, and make sure he knows you won't judge him. If he's interested in anything, encourage him to join a sport, club or group to meet peers with similar interests. Work with him to improve his social skills -- shyness or anxiety might be holding him back and contributing to his loneliness.
If your teen seems depressed as well as lonely, consider getting her professional help. Talking to her doctor about her feelings can help, as can speaking with a school counselor or even a professional therapist. Another option is a support group -- through a group, she can talk to other teens going through similar situations. If your local hospital or community center doesn't offer support groups, check out support groups online. Just remind your teen to use caution if she seeks support online. For instance, she should never give out her personal information on the Internet.