Signs and Symptoms of Teenage Depression
Teenage depression isn’t just occasional bad moods or sadness, but it is more common than you might think. In fact, about two out of every 10 teens in the U.S. will experience depression.
Depression is a serious problem that impacts every aspect of a teen’s life. Depression can destroy the very essence of a teenager’s personality, causing overwhelming sadness, despair, or anger. Without treatment, depression can lead to problems at school, running away, substance abuse, low self-esteem, eating disorders, internet addiction, self-injury, reckless behavior (such as reckless driving, out-of-control drinking, and unsafe sex), violence/bullying, and suicide.
It’s important to remember that as teenagers work through the challenges of growing up, some “growing pains” are normal. But dramatic, long-lasting changes in personality, mood, or behavior are red flags for depression:
- Sadness or hopelessness, irritability, tearfulness or frequent crying
- Withdrawal from some, but not all, people, loss of interest in activities
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits, restlessness and agitation
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and boredom
- Lack of enthusiasm and motivation, fatigue or lack of energy, difficulty concentrating
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Extreme sensitivity to criticism, thoughts of death or suicide
What Parents Can Do
If you think your teenager is depressed, take action right away because depression is very damaging if it is not treated. Here are 5 steps you can take:
1. If you think your teenager is suicidal, contact your doctor or psychologist immediately.
2. Talk to your teen about it in a loving, non-judgmental way. Offer support, be gentle but keep following up. Listen without lecturing, and let them know that their feelings are important and real.
3. Share your concerns about the signs of depression you have noticed and why they worry you.
4. Encourage your teen to talk to you about what he or she is going through. If your teen says nothing is wrong, trust your instincts. Remember that teenagers may not believe or understand that what they are experiencing is depression.
5. Make an appointment for a consultation with a specialist in adolescent psychology. Once you have talked to them, you will feel more comfortable with making an appointment for your teen.
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