Signs of Depression to Watch for in Your Teen
As a parent with depression and anxiety, one of my biggest fears in life is watching my children struggle with the same issues. Both our boys are teenagers now, and I find myself observing and analyzing their behavior far more often than I did when they relied on their dad and myself to meet all their emotional needs.
While teenagers can be moody and difficult, (ahem–understatement) depression is also very common among this age group. In fact, mental health problems are more common in young adults and teenagers than any other age group, and it’s a time in our lives when our mental health starts to impact other areas of our lives.
If you’re concerned your irritable teen may be experiencing depression, I’ve put together just a few of the signs you may start to recognize if, in fact, they are struggling.
The problem with identifying this in your teenager is that it’s hard for parents to tell if they’re just apathetic towards us–which tends to happen fairly often–or if they’re apathetic in general.
If you notice your teen has lost interest in activities they usually enjoy, or if they’ve been unmotivated for a longer period of time than they normally are, it might be a good idea to talk to them about how they’re feeling.
Your teen may approach you on their own, but it’s essential to normalize things by having a chat nonetheless. Without being dismissive, point out that depression is fairly common among teenagers, and suggest ways that might help them feel better–exercise, journaling, talking with someone such as a counselor or doctor or a friend..
There is a wide range between mild depression and long-term major depression. If you teen is on the more serious end of that spectrum and other treatments either aren’t preferred or just haven’t been helpful, it may be necessary to turn to a teen treatment center in your area.
Sudden Changes at School
Issues that arise suddenly at school perhaps the number-one sign your teenager may be struggling from depression. When you lack motivation, and are struggling with the exhaustion and lack of concentration depression can cause, it can become very hard to perform at school.
It will probably be easy enough to notice if your teenager formerly got good grades and they suddenly start to drop. Take note of other signs accompanying these changes as well, as it may be an indication of depression.
As a parent, you need to keep in mind that poor results at school is not always a sign of your child just being lazy. Invite them to talk about it with you, and maintain an honest, open dialogue about the issues..
Repeatedly Escaping Reality
We all need to escape reality once in a while. Just because your kid likes to game with his friends or sit with the smartphone for much of the day doesn’t necessarily mean they’re depressed. This is fairly common–and normal—teen behavior.
If you’re noticing this behavior along with other common symptoms–poor school performance, skipping classes, avoiding his or her friends, and getting lost in a computer world rather than finding joy in the real world may be a strong indicator of depression.
Watch out for other signs of reckless behavior that are beyond those of a normal teenager. Excessive drinking, using drugs, etc. are also ways of escaping reality. Rather than focusing on your anger and punishing your child, try to explore other possibilities. Talk with them without judgement and anger, and do your best to be patient while to find a way to talk with you about it. It may not come easy for them.
Running away is a more obvious sign you need to be aware of. For many struggling with depression, the need to run away from everything once in a while is common. Even talking about running away could be a cry for help., You’ll be more likely to help your teenager if you’re prepared to understand and listen, rather than lecture.
It’s not easy being a parent, but it can also be tough to be a teenager. You were there once, remember? By keeping an eye out for these signs, staying open-minded, and patient, you’re already committed to being proactive, which will make things a bit easier for both of you.
Share your thoughts: Do you have a child you think might be struggling with depression?