Has your teen’s behavior changed lately? Is your teen showing some signs of depression? It’s well-known that behavior changes can be possible during the teen years. Generally speaking, the symptoms of depression aren’t some of those expected behavior changes in teens.
Learning the signs of depression in teens can put you in a better position to recognize them and get your teen the help he needs.
Recognizing some of the signs of depression in teens
Remember that the symptoms of depression can range in severity between individuals. Depression can also slowly become a part of your teen’s life. It doesn’t always pop up overnight. Parents may be surprised to learn that some teens have been slowly struggling in silence for months before anybody recognizes that they are fighting depression.
These eight signs of depression, both behavioral and emotional, are not an exclusive list but can help you to identify some of the most commonly seen signs in teens.
1. Losing interest in things that once brought them happiness. Teens may stop playing football, stop playing chess, and even give up some of their favorite hobbies, like playing video games. The loss of interest can be gradual, or it may be sudden.
2. Mood changes extend past the increased moodiness typically seen in teens. Your teen may be sad, cry for no apparent reason, or get angry over minor issues. Teens may also seem constantly annoyed and could express feeling hopeless.
3. Changes in sleeping patterns, which could extend to sleeping too much or not being able to fall asleep. Teens who sleep too much may still feel tired and drained of energy.
4. Being highly critical of himself, with low self-esteem. Teens may fixate on mistakes they made in the past and criticize themselves a lot. There may also be an increase in sensitivity surrounding perceived rejection, and teens may express wanting almost non-stop reassurance from those around them.
5. Appetite changes, which could swing either side of the spectrum. Your teen may have a decreased appetite and lose weight. Or he may have an increased appetite and gain weight. It’s expected for teens to get an increase in appetite as they approach growth spurts, however.
6. Withdrawing from family and even friends and romantic partners. Social isolation, particularly for a teen who was once a social butterfly, can be a big red flag that something is amiss with your teen. You expect your teen to want to withdraw from spending time with the rest of the family, at least somewhat. But, generally speaking, when teens do this, they prefer to spend more time with their friends and their romantic interests.
7. Many teens don’t enjoy school, but one of the signs of depression is seeing sharp changes in their behaviors and performance at school. Teens who once did well and got excellent grades may now be performing poorly. They may skip school often or pretend to be sick, so they don’t attend school. There may also be arguments with teachers and other students.
8. Changes in hygiene are a prevalent sign of depression. Your teen may stop showering often, may not care if his clothing is clean, and may simply give up on his hygiene and appearance. He may shrug or get defensive if you ask him about it.
There are many other signs of depression that your teen may show, including the use of drugs or alcohol, being agitated or restless, often speaking about body aches and tiredness, and risk-taking behavior. Your teen may also act out, skip curfew, and get into trouble with law enforcement.
What can you do to help your teen?
It can be challenging to figure out the difference between what is considered normal ups and downs for a teenager and depression. Start with a conversation. Ask your teen how he feels and what he’s been up to, and try to figure out if he seems overwhelmed, stressed, or otherwise angry.
The signs of depression typically won’t get better and go away without intervention and the right treatment. If they start to interfere in your teen’s ability to function and cope, or he’s expressed things that spark concern, it’s time to reach out to a mental health professional.
Without mental health intervention, the signs of depression may get worse. Your teen may also be at an increased risk of self-harm or suicide if he doesn’t get the help he needs.
- Speak to your family doctor or your teen’s pediatrician for recommendations for a mental health professional with the training and experience needed to work with teens.
- Discuss your concerns with your teen’s teachers and coaches at school to find out if his behavior could be partially triggered by something or someone at school.
- Determine whether there are any ways that you can help to control the stress that your teen is feeling.
- Encourage self-care and take part in these same caring activities so that you are both feeling your best as you tackle depression.
- Work with your teen’s doctor to help get the proper diagnosis. A physical exam, lab tests, and a mental health evaluation may all be a part of getting the correct diagnosis for your teen.
Medications can help some teens with the signs of depression. But medications aren’t always the right choice for every person struggling with mental health. For some teens, a combination of psychotherapy and medication can help put them on a better path forward.
If outpatient treatment isn’t as effective as hoped, some teens may be good candidates for a hospital stay or another inpatient treatment program. These facilities offer teen’s the safe and structured environment needed as they learn valuable coping skills.
Has your teen been struggling with depression? At HelpYourTeenNow we can connect families with the resources and help they need. If your teen has been fighting depression and other mental wellness concerns, the sooner you get him the help, the sooner he’ll be able to return to a life that is within his control.