Depression is something that can become incredibly difficult to deal with, especially within the context of a family unit. When it comes to teenagers and depression, that difficulty is increased. Parents can find it difficult to break through to depressed teens, and in some cases, they may not even recognize that the depression exists.
If you’re a parent, you only want the best for your children. Teenagers can experience an overwhelming amount of hormonal changes, as well as social and academic pressures. As stress piles up, the chances of developing depression are increased. Most studies suggest that up to 20% of teens will develop depression before the time they are 18, which can lead to learning difficulties, behavioral problems, and a breakdown in interpersonal relationships.
If you suspect your teen is depressed, or if you’ve noticed behavioral changes that you find difficult to understand, then it is time to act. With some basic information, you will know how to identify adolescent depression, and know when to get your child the professional help and support that they need.
The Signs that Your Teen is Suffering from Depression
Depression is more than just a feeling of sadness. Clinical depression in teens can manifest as a range of symptoms, some of which your teenager may already be displaying. While not every one of these symptoms is a guarantee of depression, they’re strong indicators that your teen is struggling internally.
- Sadness is the most common indicator of depression in adults, but may not be a major indicator for all teens. Adolescents may also display feelings of hopelessness, which will be evident in certain things that your teenager says.
- For teens, irritability is more common than sadness, as are hostility and anger. These may be displayed as sudden outbursts of rage, surly behavior, or a teen becoming more confrontational than they once were.
- Depressed teens can have trouble focusing on tasks, and may become restless when they aren’t stimulated. This restlessness can turn into agitation.
- If your teen is depressed, they may lose appetite, or they may even start overeating compared to their previous habits. In depression, appetite changes will usually sit at extreme ends of the scale.
- It is common for teenagers with depression to become withdrawn. They may isolate themselves from friends, and become less involved in family activities.
- Depressed teens may sleep for excessive amounts of time, and appear lethargic while they’re awake, no matter how much rest they have been getting.
- If your teen has suddenly lost interests in hobbies, sports, and other activities that they typically enjoy, this could be a sign of depression, especially if they are not replacing activities with other positive interests.
- If your teen is emotionally unstable to an excessive degree, this could be an indicator of depression. They may be quick to become upset, or may frequently cry or show signs of distress.
- Teens that show an unhealthy interest in morbid topics may be suffering from depression. If your teenager is preoccupied with death, or if they make mention of suicide, then that is a key indicator of depression that needs to be acted upon, immediately.
Knowing the Symptoms, How Do You Know When to Seek Help?
Just because your teen displays one of the above symptoms, doesn’t mean that they’re suffering from a deep depression that requires professional intervention. As teenagers grow, it’s common for them to go through a range of emotions, some of which could make you feel your teen is depressed, even though they’re only exhibiting normal behavioral ups and downs. To know when you need to get help, you have to know when your teen is going through more than a phase.
To qualify any of these symptoms as true depression indicators, your teen would have to show the symptoms for an extended period of time. As an example, hostility and aggression that has been evident for weeks at a time, would be a strong indicator that it’s time to start talking to your teen, and seek professional help. In some cases, symptoms require immediate attention. If your teen is making remarks about suicide, or other suggestions of self-harm, then intervention is necessary. As a general rule, when symptoms begin to negatively impact you teen, your family, or anyone else, then there is likely a problem that is developing.
To know when to get help, you have to be active in your teen’s life, and observant of their behavior. Be gentle with your teen, be supportive, and never try to talk them out of their depression. You need to validate what they’re feeling, and provide them with options to talk to a professional.
By identifying and addressing depression at the earliest possible stage, you will have the best chance of helping your teen, so that they can go on to develop into a healthy, emotionally fulfilled, and promising young adult.