Don’t all teenagers lurk in their rooms and moan about getting up for school?
Occasional moodiness and a little bit of melancholy is normal for teenagers, but depression isn’t just bad moods and the occasional blues – it’s a serious condition. Untreated, teen depression can lead to substance abuse, self-mutilation, violence, pregnancy, and even suicide. It’s not all doom and gloom though, and there are plenty of ways teachers, parents and friends can help. Here, we take a closer look at teen depression.
Understanding teen depression
For teenagers, depression can eat away at a developing personality, causing an overwhelming sense of sadness, anger or despair.
Adults can seek help on their own, but teenagers usually have to rely on parents or teachers to pick up on their symptoms and get them the treatment they need. If you have a teenager at home, it’s important to learn what the symptoms of teen depression look like, and what to do if you spot the warning signs.
Signs and symptoms
Teenagers face a lot of pressure: the changes of puberty, questions about who they are and where they fit in, and the transition from child to adult can also bring conflict at home as teens start to assert their independence. With all this drama, it isn’t always easy to differentiate between depression and normal teenage moodiness. What complicates matters is that teens with depression aren’t always sad or withdrawn – some depressed teens show symptoms of irritability, aggression, and rage.
Signs and symptoms of depression in teens
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Irritability, anger, or hostility
- Tearfulness or frequent crying
- Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Restlessness and agitation
- Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Loss of interest in activities
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thoughts of death or suicide
If you aren’t sure whether your adolescent is just being a teen, or experiencing real depression, think about how long the symptoms have been present, and get advice from your family doctor.
Talk about it
If you suspect that a teenager in your life is suffering from depression, speak up right away. In a loving and non-judgmental way, share your concerns with your teenager. Let him or her know what specific signs of depression you’ve noticed and why they worry you. Then encourage your child to share what he or she is going through.
Your teen may be ashamed, may be reluctant to open up, or afraid of being misunderstood. Make an immediate appointment for your teen to see the family doctor for a physical check-up and depression screening. The doctor should be told about symptoms and any close relatives who have ever been diagnosed with depression or other mental health disorders.