Teenage depression is a serious issue that many teens, parents and families may face. It can increase the risk of serious health issues for teenagers like stress, anxiety, insomnia and even lead to teenagers putting themselves or others in danger. For parents, teachers, guardians and caregivers, it is important to understand what teenage depression is, then recognize the signs of teenage depression as soon as possible.
What is Teenage Depression?
While many understand that teenagers have a lot to deal with, and going through tough emotional times is a part of growing up, there are many parents and caregivers who do not fully understand what teenage depression really is. The major difference between teenage depression and emotional mood swings is a deep sense of anguish, sadness, despair and even anger. The easiest way you can tell if a teenager is suffering from teenage depression is to be mindful of the common symptoms and signs.
Symptoms of Teenage Depression
It may be fairly difficult for parents and caregivers to determine whether a teenager is suffering from depression, or going through common, teenage mood swings. Here are the common symptoms of teenage depression:
- Lack of joy or enthusiasm
- Highly irritable
- Low self-esteem
- Constantly Agitated
- Difficulty concentrating
- No motivation to do anything
- Constantly feeling ill or tired
These aren't necessarily all of the symptoms of teen depression, but they are the most common. Since many teenagers face difficult issues everyday of their lives, it's difficult to differentiate whether a teen is suffering from a bad day, or teenage depression. The easiest way to tell the difference is if you notice your teen is showing any of these signs or symptoms on a regular basis with no specific cause or explanation for their behavior.
Signs of Teenage Depression
Some of the possible effects of teenage depression include:
- Poor performance in school
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Sexual promiscuity
- Violence and aggression
- Self-injury (typically mutilation of the arms)
- Isolation from friends and family
- Eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia
Causes of Teenage Depression
Teenage depression might be isolated to one particular cause or event, or can be a combination of multiple issues a teen might be dealing with:
- The natural stresses of aging and maturing
- Parental issues
- Dealing with the death of a close friend or family member
- Relationship issues including rejection, or breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend
- Weight issues
- Failure at school or extra-curricular activities
According to the National Institutes of Health, adolescent girls are twice as likely to experience depression when compared to boys. A history of depression in a teenager's family also increases the risk of teenage depression.
Dealing with Teenage Depression
It's important to recognize the signs and symptoms of teenage depression in its early stages. If your teen is dealing with any of the issues mentioned above, do not simply pass them off as common teenage angst, stress and moodiness. Try communicating with your teen to see if you can identify any issues and remember to be supportive. Dealing with the issue as a family tends to lead to positive effects when addressing teenage depression. Here are some tips on talking with your teen about possible depression issues:
- Handle the issue as delicately as possible. If they don't open up, be persistent, but be careful not to show signs of anger or frustration as it may only make things worse.
- Try not to lecture your teen or sound authoritative.
- Be attentive, and listen to your teen for once. This is the time to allow your teen to open up to you about their problems, something that's difficult for any teen to do.
- While it may be difficult for some parents to relate to the issues their teen is facing, make sure you acknowledge their pain and suffering and be as supportive as possible.
When to Seek Professional Help
Although they might be opposed to it at first, it is important to recognize when your family and your teen need professional help.
- Start by visiting the family doctor to seek assistance and a diagnosis if your teen is suffering from depression.
- Your family doctor might refer to you to a psychiatrist or psychologist who specializes with teen depression.
- Screen multiple specialists and make sure you get your teen's input about who they feel comfortable with. Don't try to force anyone on them.
- While there are various medications available, you may want to strongly consider alternative methods of treatment before resorting to prescribed antidepressants. Certain side effects accompany depression medication, and only a certain number are approved for use on teens ranging from 12 to 17 years of age.