Parenting Tips – Warning Signs for Teen Depression
Teen depression is a very serious problem in today’s world and although we know a good deal about what it looks like, we are still learning how to combat it. The one thing the experts seem to agree on is that early recognition of the signs and symptoms of depression can only help. If your teenager is exhibiting any of the warning signs, don’t take them lightly. Teen suicide is still on a sharp uptick. When you notice warning signs of teen depression, talk to them about it. If you don’t feel comfortable with the answers or conversation, then you need to get them some help. Having someone to talk to outside the family unit that knows what they are doing can make a huge difference.
The first step, however, is knowing what the signs and symptoms look like. Here are some things to look out for:
If your teenager suddenly starts spending most of his time alone, this can be a very serious warning sign. This is, however, one of those tricky symptoms that can sometimes simply be assigned that your child is… well… A teenager. Spending hours and hours alone is nothing unusual for some teenagers. Only you can tell if this is a new behavior pattern for your teenager. Another key warning sign that is often more telling is when they regress from their friends as well. Teenagers avoiding their friends is rarely a benign situation. Investigate such things immediately.
Sadness and Crying
This is yet another symptom of teen depression that can be misconstrued, but any teenager that is showing emotional upset should be considered. If you notice that your teenager is crying more than usual and about things that seem minor, sit them down and talk about it. Opening a dialogue is usually enough to find out what is under the surface. The sadness and crying persist, consider having a professional speak with them to help sort things out. The worst thing that you can do is ignore the situation.
Misplaced Anger and Irritability
I know it sounds like I am simply describing every teenager on earth, but this is not normal teenage behavior. Minor irritability is not what we are referring to here. Feeling angry to the point that you act out is quite a bit different than being annoyed at your little brother for coming in your room. Anger that seems out of place is what you’re looking for here. When a teenager is angry a lot, there is usually something bubbling under the surface that needs to come out. When it remains and is not dealt with, depression can follow.
Changes in Interests and Hobbies
Another common problem you see in depressed teenagers is a complete about-face in their interests and hobbies. For example, if your teen usually enjoys a specific type of music and suddenly switches over to a drastically different type of music, that can be a warning sign. Certainly they can make changes in teenagers often do, but sudden drastic changes are worth looking into. You will often see these types of changes when a teenager changes social circles. Pay attention to who they hang out with and how that affects their day-to-day life.
Changes in Eating and Sleeping
It is interesting to note that some kids see an uptick in their eating habits when they are depressed. More commonly they will stop eating or slow down considerably. The same can be said for their sleeping habits. Some kids won’t sleep at all while others will want to sleep the entire day away. Again, it is really about drastic and quick changes. If you notice something that is out of the norm for your child, talk to them and to a professional when necessary.
No Excitement or Motivation
When a child no longer seems excited about life, it is your job as a parent to find out why. Depression in teenagers is often sneaky in that it slowly takes hold. One of the first signs a parent is likely to see is a change in your child’s grades, motivation or excitement about life. Teenagers should be full of vim and vigor and ready to take on the world most of the time. If you have a child that is usually a fantastic student and suddenly they are struggling, sit down with them and investigate the situation. Don’t just accept the surface answers that teenagers will give you. Dig deeper when you have a sense that something is wrong.
Feeling Worthless or Considering Suicide
A teenager that is feeling worthless or unloved is a teenager that is headed straight for depression. The last thing that you want your teenager to go through is a sense of worthlessness. Sometimes a teenage life can seem so overwhelming that they begin to feel small and unimportant. Finding their place in the world is one of the most difficult things to do. By the time it gets to the point that they are considering suicide, professional help is absolutely necessary. While that may seem obvious, you would be surprised at the number of parents that try to handle a situation like that alone. Reach out to the support in the community and find a doctor that can help get your teenager back on track.
Teenage depression is not something that you have to be afraid of. Most teenagers are going to go through some type of depression. When they do, it is absolutely vital that they know that you are there for them and ready to help. If you do not have the answers that they are seeking, allow them to see someone who can provide those answers in a professional setting. Most of all, be there for them and provide an ear for their troubles.