Is My Teen Depressed? Signs of Teen Depression
If you’re the parent of a teen, then you most likely understand that teenagers can become moody in a quick minute. One minute they’re happy-go-lucky and the next they’re locked in their room crying their eyes out.
Yes, the teen years can be marked with emotional highs and lows, as each teen is going through chemical and emotional changes that can take them for a loop at times.
However, when it comes to depression, it’s a lot more than just feeling the blues for a day or two. Depression is much more serious, and if not detected and treated, it can lead to a miserable life filled with negative – and sometimes harmful – thoughts and behaviors.
Teen depression statistics
Depression is a topic that many people will not talk about. They’ll feel ashamed and keep silent about it, which will not help anyone. Consider some teen depression statistics from the National Institute of Public Health:
- The onset age for teen depression is 14
- At least 20% of teens by the age of 18 will have experienced depressive states.
- 80% of these will not reach out for treatment.
These stats are alarming enough, but even worse is that those teens who struggle with depression and don’t receive treatment are more likely to suffer from substance abuse, eating disorders, bullying, and academic performance. This is why it is essential to be able to recognize the sighs of depression in teens and take appropriate action.
Symptoms of teen depression
Granted, periods of sadness come and go all throughout life. A teen can have a few days where they feel super sad, or maybe even a week or two. It could very well be situational, like a relationship break up, the loss of something valued, identity issues, and so on. But the sadness usually resolves without much effort.
However, when the sadness lingers or deepens significantly, it could be depression. Take a look at some of the signs of teen depression as outlined on the Mental Health America website:
- Sleeping more than usual.
- Tired all the time. Moping around. Not having the energy to do very much.
- Extreme sadness.
- A change in mood. He/she used to be in a good mood most of the time, but lately he/she is cranky and very sad.
- Not interested in the things he/she used to be interested in, including school or sport activities, hobbies, etc.
- Not wanting to hang out with friends or family members.
- Appetite changes. May eat more or less than usual.
- Trouble sleeping
- Becomes very critical of self, others, and life in general. Verbally says he/she is worth nothing, nothing ever goes his or her way, etc.
- Spending a lot of time dwelling on negative thoughts
- Makes comments about how hopeless or depressed he/she is
- Pain in the body
- Making alarming comments like, “I wish I could just disappear” or “This world would be better off without me”.
- Writing poetry or journaling about death
Granted, some of the signs above indicate behaviors that many teens do from time to time. But if your teen is having some of these symptoms, he or she could clearly be struggling with depression.
The causes of depression
Depression has various causes. It can be hereditary and run in the family or it can result from a traumatic or stressful time in a person’s life. For example, a teen may become quite depressed after a breakup or the divorce of the parents. Or, depression can result from feelings of confusion, fear of rejection, not feeling like they fit in, and so on.
What can I do if my teen is depressed?
If you suspect that your teen is depressed, there are several things you can do. First, sit down and have a real heart-to-heart conversation with your teen. Let him know that you are concerned based on the signs that you see. Go to him in a gentle, caring way. Be prepared for him to avoid the conversation or maybe even lie to you. Many teens are afraid to open up to parents for one reason or another. Have the conversation anyway, letting your child know that he or she is safe to share anything and everything with you.
Treatment for depression
You can also consider getting your teen to a clinical counselor in order to be evaluated. It is helpful to have a clinician talk with your teen so that a proper diagnosis can occur. Counselors are trained to seek out the warning signs of depression and help teens deal with the symptoms via therapy. In some instances, especially for more moderate depression based upon physical causes, anti-depressant medication may be prescribed to help alleviate symptoms.
If you think your teen is struggling with depression, talk to him or her. Ask him if he’d be open to meeting with a counselor. Let him know that treatment can help and that no one has to struggle with depression alone. If you’re not sure who to turn to, ask your doctor or local mental health clinic for a referral. Rest assured that you’re not in this alone, as there is help available for teen depression.