How to Identify Teen Depression

Identify Teen Depression

Adolescence can be a challenging time for teens, which can also be arduous for parents. There are so many factors at play in teenage life, such as hormones, grades, relationships, and, in some cases, work, that your child may seem constantly stressed or in a state of unhappiness. 

While this may be a normal response to growing up and dealing with the demands of life, extensive unhappiness can indicate symptoms of teenage depression. This ailment can be a severe mood disorder, resulting in changes in how teens view themselves, feelings of hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities they formerly enjoyed. 

In extreme cases, depression can lead to serious injury or even death, so it is vital to detect it as quickly as possible so your affected teen can receive treatment. 

What are the Symptoms of Teen Depression?

While many of the following symptoms may be natural teen responses to sadness, stress, or disappointment, if you notice a pattern of these behaviors for two weeks or longer, it may mean that your child is suffering from depression. 

  • Frequent sobbing or irritation, especially without an obvious explanation
  • Unwillingness to participate in activities they formerly enjoyed
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Frequent need for reassurance
  • Sensitivity to criticism or perceived criticism
  • Lack of general focus or interest
  • Frustration over seemingly unimportant matters
  • Comments about death, dying, or suicide
  • A dismal outlook on life
  • Self-deprecating remarks and low self-esteem
  • Exhibiting hopelessness about life or the future
  • Trouble remembering things
  • Slower movements and fatigue, low energy
  • Appetite changes, such as eating more or less
  • Spending unusual amounts of time or considerably less time sleeping
  • Head or body aches
  • Lower grades or unfinished assignments
  • Drug or alcohol usage
  • Restlessness
  • Poor hygiene
  • Impulsive or rebellious behaviors
  • Self-harm

These symptoms are not necessarily indicators of teen depression, especially since hormones can be the culprit behind much of this type of behavior. However, if you notice a pattern including various symptoms, there is a definite cause for concern. 

Nearly one-third of teens exhibit symptoms of depression. You know your teen best and if there are marked changes in personality over an extended period, make a concerted effort to discover if your teen is suffering from this ailment and pursue treatment options immediately. 

Treatment Options

Early intervention is the best plan to help your adolescent and attempt to help or stabilize the condition before it reaches the point where your child seriously considers self-harm or makes a suicide plan. 

If there is an emergency or you suspect your teen is at this point, dial 9-8-8 for the Suicide and Crisis Hotline

Even if you only suspect depression, keep the number handy because if the situation becomes unexpectedly severe, you may not be thinking clearly; having the number in an easily accessible place will provide peace of mind. Plus, if the number is within visibility and easy reach of the teen, they may take it upon themselves to use it if they feel themselves beginning to spiral. 

Hopefully, there will never be a situation where you will need the number, but it is better to have it as a precaution.

Talk to Your Teen

Holding a conversation with teens of a certain age can be difficult even without including the onset of depression. Still, you should communicate with them and provide support. This process is a way to be involved in your teen’s life while participating in treatment. 

Remember that you do not have the power to fix the problem, although your support and understanding can go a long way to improving a difficult situation. Be open and honest with your teen, but most importantly, listen to what they say. 

They may initially be unwilling to discuss their feelings, but if you approach the situation correctly, you can often encourage them to open up to you. Trust is important, and if you lecture them, make accusations, or approach the situation with hostility, you may only make a bad situation worse for them. 

Here are some tips to help you talk to your teen: 

  • Listen to your teen when they talk. Encourage them, but your primary purpose is to listen to what they say and ask gentle questions to understand why they feel the way they do. They may not know the cause themselves, but if you hold supportive conversations, you may be able to determine possibilities. 
  • Make Time to spend with your teen. Life is busy, but your child needs you right now, even if they act like they don’t. Even if they are unwilling to talk, provide them with your presence and engage them in activities they enjoy, if you can. Whenever possible, encourage them to spend time with friends they trust who are good influences. 
  • Choose Activities with Exercise if you can, as it can significantly improve mental health. Offer to try new exercise classes or active activities, and suggest an hour a day to help. Approach these prospects with enthusiasm and patience, as the teen may be experiencing a lack of interest or energy. 
  • Nutrition is another key focal point. Healthy foods can help restore energy and balance in the body and brain. 
  • Discuss the Importance of Sleep, as a lack of sleep can increase symptoms of depression. Too much sleep can also be detrimental, so help your teen regulate a happy medium of approximately 9 hours. 

Consult a Therapist

It’s always a good idea to seek professional help, and different forms of therapy, including group therapy, may prove beneficial for your teen. 

As licensed therapists are professionals in their field, they will have experience dealing with this mental health issue and can make an effective treatment plan. Plus, if they are unwilling to discuss their problems with you (as they may be embarrassed), they may open up to an objective third party. 

Furthermore, in severe cases, medication can prove effective against depression; a therapist has the means to make this determination and facilitate this treatment if deemed advantageous or necessary.  

The Bottom Line

Monitor your teen carefully if you notice that they have started to exhibit symptoms of depression, talking to them in a supportive way to try to discern possible causes. If they display these traits for two weeks or longer, it is crucial to work with a doctor and act fast to find treatments for teenage depression before the situation escalates. 

Therapists can provide a diagnosis and treatment plan for adolescents suffering from depression, but it’s essential that you also provide support at home. This experience is a complex mental health issue for your teen to face, and being there for them can make all the difference in helping them escape the darkness and once more see the joy in life.