Until recently, depression wasn’t really recognized in teenagers because, let’s face it, they are generally moody and often morose, with a dash of melancholy and drama. However, teen depression is a very real condition and can impact your child, even if there is no family history of depression. Depression can be the gateway to troublesome behavior like violence, substance abuse, self-mutilation, promiscuity and even suicide, so if you are worried that your teen’s mood swings are more serious than normal, get better educated on teen depression.
Symptoms of Teen Depression
In order to help your teen struggling with depression, you must first recognize the symptoms of this quiet but insidious condition. Note that teen depression looks very different from adult depression symptoms. Here are some of the most frequent signs that a teen is clinically depressed:
- Irritability beyond normal levels
- Ignoring most friends and family
- Changes in sleeping
- Changes in eating
- Inability to concentrate
- Lack of energy or motivation
- Frequent crying or emotional outbursts
- Overwhelming guilt
- Thoughts of self-harm or death
Parents Can Help
Once you determine that your teen may be suffering with depression, there are many things you can do to help. Above all, make sure your teen is seeing a therapist who specializes in adolescent depression and behavior. Getting professional help is a huge step in overcoming this struggle.
At home, you can make sure your teen knows that you are there to support them and love them, no matter what. You should also be available and open for whenever your teen wants to talk, share feelings or simply just hang out in total silence if necessary. Validate their feelings, no matter how dramatic, and don’t judge them or lecture them. Being a good sounding board for them as they process their feelings is a key part of recovery and of keeping your relationship intact.
Other things you can do to help your teen who is struggling with depression is to encourage them to get involved, whether it’s around the house doing chores, engaging in a hobby, socializing with friends or visiting relatives. Activity and interaction in other people’s lives is a positive experience for depressed teens and can help them feel validation and bost their self-esteem.
The road to recovery from teen depression isn’t going to be easy or fast, but with professional help, loving parental guidance and positive outside influences, your teen who struggles with depression can overcome the challenge and go on to have a healthy, productive life.