All parents want their kids to be happy and healthy. When a child is little you know they are sick because they run a fever or they are whining a lot. When you child becomes a teenager, though, the signs of problems look a lot different. Do you know what to look for if you teen is depressed? A recent study conducted in California cites that almost 40% of eleventh grade girls report feelings of depression and 30% of boys reported the same. Those are big numbers for kids. Sadly, parents are often the last to realize that their teen is battling with depression. In order to support your child and make sure they are receiving the attention and care they need, parents need to be aware of what depression symptoms in teens look like. Learn about Teen Depression.
Parents of teens understand that teenagers are moody by nature. Teen also naturally act out sometimes. This makes it difficult for parents to pinpoint the differences between these natural behaviors and depression symptoms in teens. Depression is a condition that affects the very personality of the teenager. Depression destroys a teen’s ability to enjoy life. Parents are also often confused because they expect depression to look the same in teenagers as it would in an adult. The symptoms of depression manifest itself differently for teens.
Teen Depression: Anger
A constant sense of anger or irritability is often one of the depression symptoms in teens. Adults often exhibit sadness when depressed, but teens seem to channel their depression as anger. The anger may have a specific target or it may be generalized at any one nearby.
Teen Depression: Physical Pain
When teenagers are constantly complaining of aches and pains that cannot be pinpointed or explained by your medical doctor, it could be a sign of depression. This should be closely monitored as teens that are experiencing physical pain associated with depression may turn to substance abuse to alleviate the pain. Medications in the home should be closely monitored.
Teen Depression: Extreme Sensitivity
Depressed teens are usually hyper sensitive to any form of criticism, no matter how gently it is presented. This is a result of the fact that during depression a person’s sense of self- worth is great compromised. Any criticism on any topic only increases these feelings of worthlessness. It is important to tread carefully in this area as teens suffering from depression have an irrational sense of self-loathing.
Teen Depression: Withdrawal
When normally outgoing kids suddenly want to spend all of their time alone or want to spend time with only one person, it could be a sign of depression. If you see this in your teen pay close attention to the person they want to spend time with. Teens will often gravitate toward people that feed their depression rather than help alleviate it.
Teen Depression: Other Symptoms
Other more common symptoms are disturbances in eating patterns. Overeating and under eating are both signs of depression. Changes in sleep patterns, whether sleeping too much or sleeping too little can also be signs of depression. Changes in school performance and lack of enthusiasm over activities that were once enjoyed should also be considered.
How to Help with Teen Depression
Just like you would want to help your child if they were physically sick, a parent wants to help their child if they are depressed as well. The best way to begin helping your child is to make them feel safe not threatened. Many parents take a child’s change in behavior personally, as if the child is doing this just to make the parent’s life more difficult. This is not the case. Establish a sense of sincere concern and compassion with your child. This can set the groundwork for your teen to open up about what they are feeling.
Talk to you teen. This is different than talking at your teen. If your teen is depressed, lecturing them will not help them overcome their depression. You don’t even have to talk about how they are feeling all of the time. Talk to them about anything they want to talk about. Most depression is a result of feelings of isolation. When a teen feels included it can help them overcome their depression.
Help your teen get out of their comfort zone and meet people and form support systems that can get their minds off of their depression. Sports, activities or support groups are a great way to get a depressed teen to open up and expand their horizons.
Know When It’s Serious
If you suspect that your teen is clinically depressed, or your teen has expressed suicidal feelings they need professional counseling. Do not let your own sense of shame stand in the way of helping your child. Teen suicide is an increasing problem in the U.S. and is not something to be taken lightly. Many depressed teens have recovered very well after professional counseling and/or medication and have been able to go on to live normal, happy lives with the help of their parents and loved ones.