Teenagers have a lot to contend with on a daily basis. From the demands of school to the intricacies of their all-important social environment — both online and off — it’s no wonder they can seem distant or like they’re on another plane of existence entirely.
Add to that context, piles and piles of raging and hard-to-talk-about hormones and emotions, and it’s no wonder s are commonly moody and irritable.
Sometimes, though, the way your teen is feeling and behaving doesn’t just stay within the range of what most of us would consider “typical.” Roughly 20 percent of all adolescents will experience depression by the time they reach adulthood, and most of them won’t receive the help they need. In your well-meaning attempts to survive the teenage years, don’t miss these five warning signs that your child is experiencing depression.
1. Drug and Alcohol Use
Every parent is different when it comes to teenagers, drugs, and alcohol. Some consider the occasional joint or beer little more than harmless experimentation, while others see any crossing of lines into the use of illegal substances cause for concern. Regardless of where you fall along that spectrum, when your teen starts to use drugs and/or alcohol with any regularity, it’s time to intervene and seek out the underlying causes of the abuse.
Untreated depression can often lead to self-medicating behaviors in teens and adults, which is why it’s important to get your teen to a licensed therapist. From there, you can determine whether the substance abuse and depression are serious enough to warrant a boarding school that specializes in treating both — DiamondRanchAcadamy.com is a great choice — or whether they are of a degree that can be assisted with out-patient methods like anti-depression medication and talk or group therapy.
Depression takes the fun and appeal out of activities a depressed individual once found enjoyable. If your teenager responds to nearly everything with a resigned, “Whatever,” it can be hard to tell whether or not their lack of joy or interest is an indicator of an underlying problem or just a sign of teenage angst.
That being said, if your teen becomes apathetic and disinterested toward events, people, subjects, or hobbies she used to enjoy, depression may be the cause. Ask some questions about how she’s been feeling, and share some of your own experiences with depression or the blues. If you aren’t able to get to the bottom of the cause, and the apathetic behavior goes on for more than two weeks, consult a professional.
3. Mystery Pains
One aspect of depression that’s not as well-known as some of the others is that it can create physical pain for which there is no readily seen corresponding physical ailment.
If your teen has been complaining of stomach pains, achiness, headaches, and other woes for which your family physician can find no cause, depression may be to blame.
Be sure to rule out physical causes, but once you have, it’s important to take your teen’s complaints seriously — the pain may be a mental health issue.
4. Changes in Eating/Weight
If your teen suddenly becomes overly concerned about his weight, or he gains or loses a significant amount of weight in a short period of time, depression may be to blame. Our image-focused culture can wreak havoc on fragile adolescents’ self-esteem.
When the pressure becomes too much, depression and troubles with food can result. If you’ve noticed changes in your teen’s behavior and attitude toward food, ask him how he’s feeling. Because an eating disorder can also develop alongside depression, be sure to get help that can treat both problems.
5. Changes in Sleep Patterns
Teens and sleep have a something of a love/hate relationship, but whether your teen loves to sleep the weekend away or likes to stay up until the wee hours of the morning, when you see a dramatic change in when she does and doesn’t open her eyes, depression may be the problem. Depression disrupts the Whenever a big and unexplained change occurs in your teenager’s sleeping habits, and she doesn’t seem like herself because of it, ask her some pointed questions about how she’s feeling overall. Depression may be the reason her sleep cycles have gone haywire.
Dealing with a teenager is difficult for most parents, but when your teen is depressed it can be even more challenging. Don’t assume your child’s problems are made-up or insignificant. If you notice any of these warning signs in your teenager, get help.