How to Recognize Signs of Teen Depression
Depression knows no boundaries, doesn't recognize gender or racial differences, crosses socioeconomic lines, and touches all religions, ages, and beliefs. Depression is a serious illness that can have a major impact on the life of a teenager. If left untreated, it may become more severe and trigger other psychological problems.
As with all mental illnesses, early detection and intervention are critical to effectively treating a teen suffering from depression.
20% of teens
Experience Major Depression
Depression lasting more than 1 year
15% with depression
Develop bipolar disorder
30% with depression
Develop substance abuse
12x more likely
Understanding Teen Depression
Before you become an expert on the components of teen depression, it's important to note that no kiddos will experience all of the symptoms. If there is a noticeable change in behavior which lasts for more than two weeks, that may be indicative of a problem. If you feel there might be a problem, contact a medical professional for an evaluation. Don't try to diagnose the problem yourself. Since you are the parent or guardian, you are not considered an objective opinion.
It's more common for teenage girls to suffer from depression than teenage boys. Experts believe that this is due to the different expectations society puts on each gender. Girls are encouraged to talk about their feelings and emotions while boys are expected to stifle them.
Characteristics of a Teen Dealing with Depression
- Anger or hostility - bouts of rage or aggression
- Apathy or continuously being lethargic, fatigue
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Sleeping more than normal or insomnia
- Complaining about failure, beliefs, ideals
- Self injurious behaviors, cutting (wearing long sleeves on hot days to cover wounds is common for kids who cut themselves)
- Feelings of guilt, shame or worthlessness
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Crying uncontrollably or often, crying for reasons which seem trivial
- Extreme sensitivity to suggestion, critique or criticism
- Unexplainable pain such as headaches, stomach pain, back pain, cramping
- Lack of concentration and irritability
- Giving up activities which were once favored
- Memory loss
- Poor performance at school
- Thoughts or discussion of suicide
- Use or abuse of drugs or alcohol
- Violence or hazardous behavior
- Withdrawn becoming a loner
- Change in appearance, lack of attention to hygiene
Teen depression may be misunderstood and mistaken for attitude problems, sadness or disobedience. Left untreated, teen depression can worsen and develop into more severe problems. Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide and the third leading cause of death amongst teens in the US. Teens who suffer from untreated depression are more likely to engage in unprotected sex meaning higher rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Less than 35% of teens who suffer from depression are currently being treated. It is estimated that if teens were to seek proper help from medical professionals, the success rate would be greater than 80%.
Geting Help for Depression
Psychologist: The role of a psychologist is to help improve mental health and manage emotional distress. Click to find a psychologist in your area. The purpose of a psychologist is to discuss and work through issues of all types. They are meant to help a patient overcome problems and fulfill their full potential in a positive manner.
Psychiatrist: The role of a psychiatrist is to evaluate, diagnose and treat mental illness as well as prescribe and continuously monitor medication. Psychiatrists are trained medical professionals who will discuss, evaluate and may prescribe medications if there is a medical necessity for prescription.
What Can I Do at Home?
Because your child suffers from depression doesn't mean that you have to allow the medical professionals to do all the work. It doesn't mean that you have to live in fear everyday either. There are many ways you can help your child.
- Talk openly and honestly and DON'T be judgmental. If you ask a question, be prepared for an answer which you may not like. Don't judge, just listen and be an active listener. Look your child in the eyes, pay attention and keep the conversation moving by continuing to ask leading questions. If you ask a question that is potentially difficult - maybe something having to do with your family, the way your treat your child or yourself, you need to be prepared for three answers: a positive, a negative and a non-responsive answer. If you get a non-responsive answer, don't continuously push, instead try another approach.
- Get involved with your child. Find something that you and your child mutually enjoy and take the time to do it together. Something like walking the dog together, gardening, window shopping, building model cars, baking, going to the movies or any activity that you both enjoy. Let your kiddo know how important they are to you.
- Stay informed about everything they are doing, everywhere they are going and how they are doing in school, athletics and all other activities.
- If they are not involved in any activities, get them involved. Volunteering is a great place to start because it often allows kids to see how people who are truly struggling are doing everything they can just to survive. When they give of themselves they may find it very rewarding and cathartic.
- Have your child start a journal. Ask them to write down everything they can and teach them that it's a way to drain their heads of the negative thoughts. Once those thoughts are out and on paper, they no longer infect their mind. Tell them to hide in a safe place so that it will remain completely secure. If they are worried that it will be read, have them write for the day, tear the page and fold it, then bring it and you can burn it or destroy it so that those issues and problems are symbolically gone forever.
Have you ever suffered from depression?
Depression Touches All Ages
Recognizing depression at all ages is important. It can effect kids, teens, adults and the elderly. The key to successfully treating depression is early detection. There are many ways to treat depression including many homeopathic remedies which are noninvasive and beneficial.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.