Teenagers face a lot of pressures, from the changes of puberty to questions about who they are and where they fit in. With all these questions, it isn’t always easy to differentiate between depression and normal teenage growing pains.
Teen depression goes beyond moodiness. It’s a serious health problem that impacts every aspect of a teen’s life.
There are multiple reasons why a teenager might become depressed like they can develop feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy over their grades. School performance, social status with peers, sexual orientation, or family life can each have a major effect on how a teen feels.
Fortunately, teen depression is treatable and parents can be a great help. Their support can go a long way toward getting their child get back on track.
Sign and Symptoms of depression in teens
- An irritable, sad, empty or cranky mood and belief that life is meaningless.
- Loss of interest in sports or activities they used to enjoy, withdrawal from friends and family, pervasive trouble in relationships.
- Changes in appetite, significant weight gain or loss.
- Excessive late-night activities, too much or too little sleep, trouble getting up in the morning, often late for school.
- Physical agitation or slowness, pacing back and forth and/or excessive, or repetitive behaviors.
- Loss of energy, social withdrawal, withdrawal from usual activities, or boredom.
- Making critical comments about themselves, behavior problems at school or at home, overly sensitive to rejection.
- Poor performance in school, a drop in grades, or frequent absences.
- Frequent complaints of physical pain (headaches, stomach), frequent visits to school nurse.
- Writing about death, giving away favorite belongings, comments like “You’ve be better off without me.”
Depression is very damaging when left untreated, so don’t wait and hope that worrisome symptoms will go away. If you suspect that your child is depressed, bring up your concerns in a loving, non-judgmental way. Even if you’re unsure that depression is the issue, the troublesome behaviors and emotions you’re seeing are signs of a problem that should be addressed.
Keep in mind that a lot of these symptoms are also indicative of normal teenage behavior. That’s why teenage depression can only be diagnosed by a trained health or mental health professional — like a child psychologist or psychiatrist.