Are you worried that your teenager is depressed? I’m not asking if your teenager is moody, we’ve all been in the position where our hormones lead to mood swings and eye rolls. Teens also tend to have different sleep habits from children and adults. It’s not just wanting to sleep in at weekends. I’m talking about a sadness that is pretty constant and effects functioning at school and/or at home.
Teen depression is pretty common and approximately 20% of people experience depression symptoms st some point during their teenage years.
So how do we tell the difference between normal teen behavior and depression?
Here are the common symptoms of teen depression. They have to be present for at least two weeks and what is probably most noticeable is a change in overall functioning. Your usually sociable child is withdrawing from friends and activities, or perhaps their grades are falling.
These are some of the signs you may be noticing:
- They are irritable, sad or their mood is flat. Their attitude is unusually negative and they say life is pretty meaningless and boring.
- Frequently there is a loss of motivation. For teens this could be a loss of interest in the sports or activities they used to enjoy and withdrawal from friends, family and socializing.
- Hand in hand with decreasing motivation is loss of energy. Not just after a busy week, recovering from being ill or because of staying up late. This is tiredness that is constant for a period of at least two weeks.
- You might also notice changes in appetite, either significant weight gain or loss.
- Many teens like to sleep in but are they getting too much or too little sleep?
- Parents also notice that their teen is making critical comments about themselves or there start to be behavior problems at school or at home.
- Another sign is a drop in grades, or frequent absences from school.
- Lastly, are you hearing frequent complaints of physical complaints i.e.headaches, stomach etc. They are not faking it. Depression can be felt as a pain in your body as well as in your mind.
Depression can often run in families. Have you or another family member ever experienced depression? It also frequently goes hand in hand with anxiety. Depression can also occur after difficult life stressors such as a bereavement, parental divorce or bullying. Sometimes though it is difficult to know what has triggered it.
So what should you do if you are worried about your teenager? Teen depression is very treatable and the first step is to get them evaluated. Tell them you are concerned and want to help. Show your child some websites of local mental health specialists and let them choose who they want to see. It is important that they are motivated to get help and are don’t feel pushed in to seeing someone they don’t want to. If they are reluctant to get counseling, engage the help of their pediatrician or family doctor.
I am a big believer in giving handouts about the strategies we talk about during sessions because I think it is hard to remember everything. I also give new clients a folder so they will be able to keep all this information in one place. A sort of emotional health toolbox to get out and read when you need it.
Not everyone is able to come and to see me though so I decided to make these strategies available to everyone and I hope you find this booklet helpful too. I think it is a great way to get started but it is hard to do this on your own so please contact me with any questions you may have after reading it.
Add your first name and email in the box below and you will be sent the steps to download your FREE book and begin your journey to feeling better.
Please let me know if you have any questions after reading the booklet. Also, if you would like to read more, I have several blog posts on my blog about depression and other issues that can affect the way you feel.
If you have any concerns that your teenager has depression contact me at 847 791-7722 or on the form below.