Being a teenager is difficult and being the parent of one can be even more of a challenge. Teenagers can be moody, short-tempered, and impossible to please. Often these extreme personality changes can make it hard to know if your teen is just acting like an average adolescent or if there is something medically wrong.
However, because depression has become such a huge problem among young people, it is imperative to know the difference. Listed are some warning signs to look for if you think your teenage son or daughter might be suffering from depression.
Struggles with low self-esteem
It is common for teenagers to feel awkward and struggle to fit in during adolescence. However, depression can significantly intensify these feelings. Teens who suffer from depression can experience intense emotions and are often extremely sensitive to criticism, rejection, or failure.
Engaging in reckless behavior
Has your typically levelheaded teen recently been caught excessively speeding or doing other perilous stunts? Does he seem to be placing himself in unusually dangerous circumstances? Teenagers who are depressed have been known to exhibit extreme or bizarre behavior, and in some cases participate in unsafe if not life threatening situations.
Article continues below...
Is your teenager eating constantly and packing on the pounds? Perhaps you noticed him picking at his food or skipping meals all together lately? If your child’s eating habits have abruptly changed to either extreme, it could be a sign of depression.
Loss of interest
Has your teenager gone from being the life of the party to moping around the house in his pajamas all day? Does he sit in front of the television or a video game for hours on end instead of going out with friends? Did he once excel in sports but now won’t even go outside to shoot hoops? If your child has lost interest in people and activities he once enjoyed, there’s a good chance he is depressed.
Sudden drop in grades
Is your once straight A student suddenly bringing home low grades? Have you recently been contacted by the school concerning your child’s lack of academic effort? While there could be many reasons for your teen’s educational performance to fluctuate, depression can affect his ability to concentrate, thus making it harder to pay attention in school.
Does your teenager suffer from frequent headaches or stomach pain? If your child lacks energy or is easily fatigued, it could be a result of depression. Depression can be caused by hormonal changes and a chemical imbalance in the brain, both of which can cause physical pain and poor health symptoms.
If you think your teen is struggling with depression, you should contact a doctor immediately. The doctor may prescribe anti-depressants along with counseling. He can also inform you of other resources available for treating depression. You can help your teen by encouraging him to talk through his emotions. It is important to listen and not lecture. Be sure to validate his feelings of depression without criticizing or placing blame. If you feel your teen has already reached his breaking point, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-talk or suicide.org or IASP.