There are far too many people that write off teenage depression as a “stage,” something a child is bound to overcome. However, statistics have shown that teenage depression is an extremely serious problem that goes beyond the occasional bad mood or melancholy attitude. Real depression is an issue of Adolescent Mental Health, and can affect every single aspect of your teen’s life, and lead to alcohol and drug abuse. Severe cases of depression can also result in pregnancy, self-loathing, violence, self-mutilation and in some cases, suicide.
Some symptoms of depression can be hard for parents to recognize; however, with a keen eye and engagement with your teen on a regular basis, you will be able to recognize some of the most common signs that there is a larger problem present. Some of the most telling symptoms of teenage depression include:
• A sudden change in your teen’s weight or appetite.
• If your teen starts to appear tearful, irritable or sad frequently.
• A reduction in their energy.
• A hard time concentrating.
• No interest in activities or things that were once fun for them.
• Feelings of helplessness, worthlessness or guilt.
• Complaining of being bored regularly.
• Talking about suicide.
• Consistent angry or irritable mood.
• Pains that cannot be explained.
• Becoming extremely sensitive to any type of criticism.
The fact is that your teen is facing a number of different pressures, from the issue of where they fit in, to puberty and who they are. Additionally, as teens continue to grow up, there can be additional friction between teens and parents because of their need for independence and control. In many cases, parents cannot differentiate between normal moodiness and real depression.
If you are not sure if your teen is suffering from depression, or if they are simply “a teenager,” you should consider how long they have had the symptoms and their severity. In many cases the help of a professional, school counselor or outside, third opinion may be extremely beneficial.
If you suspect that your teen is depressed, it is essential that you are supportive and discuss their feelings. Never ignore talk of suicide or signs of physical mutilation, but rather seek help. As a parent you have to stay involved so that you can recognize problems or signs that you have a depressed teen and take the appropriate action to help them feel better.