Teen Depression – Pay Attention to The Warning Signs
Depression in teens might not be easily recognizable. Many young adults will be stoic and often hide their sadness from their families until they are in the throws of deep depression. Growing up is stressful and many teens are in the process of finding out who they are and where they fit in. Not quite an adult, they can’t make all of their own decisions, and not still a child they are often encouraged to problem solve on their own to achieve autonomy.
While the greater majority of teens come out the other side happy and healthy, there are still a large number that internalize and combat negative thoughts and feelings to the point where they can no longer cope. This is where they get into trouble and either begin acting out by exhibiting rebellious behavior, or they turn inward and become withdrawn.
For those that are rebellious, the indications that they are in trouble are loud and clear and usually noticeable to most parents. The ones who sit quietly and suffer in silence are the ones that create the most concern. In some cases, these teens appear outwardly happy and seem to have everything going for them, but they have an underlying secret that threatens their sense of self worth.
These teens are the ones that are hardest to reach. The symptoms of teen depression are much like those of depression in general. Withdrawal and lack of interest in activities are common. If your teen was previously active but now would prefer to stay at home and do nothing, you might want to question this lack of interest. Are they sleeping more than usual? Depressed teens will typically sleep more than they normally do and will often use sleep as a form of escape.
Extreme mood swings can also signal that your teen is in danger. Teens are a war room of hormones and emotions so it’s natural that some emotional instability would be present. However, if you find that your teen is responding more often then not with outbursts of anger or tears, a one on one may be in order to find out how they’re feeling.
They might not feel comfortable sharing their feelings with you and you need to always let them know that you are there for them to talk to. A good time to bring this up is before you feel your teen is having a problem. If the two of you are having a good day together, let them know that they can come to you with any problem they might be having. Opening dialogue when there’s no sense of confrontation is best.
There are many behaviors that can be exhibited as part of teen depression. Are they having problems at school? Are they hanging out with a different crowd of friends? Has their eating habits changed? These are things that you need to pay attention to, to make sure that you have a gauge on how your teen is feeling.
The one aspect of teen depression that most parents don’t want to think about is suicide. However, ignoring this possibility is dangerous and most teens will give signs that they are thinking about this. If your teen is obsessed with death, jokes about death, or makes offhanded comments about being “better off dead”, you need to pay attention and investigate further. Additionally, if your teen is giving away prized possessions, this is an important red flag that would indicate you should seek help.
Teen depression can be treated and with your help your child can return to having normal teenage years. Avoid tragedy by keeping your eye on your teen’s behavior and seek help if any of the warning signs appear.