Signs and Symptoms of Teen Depression
Depression can sometimes be difficult to put into words and impacts people differently. However, there are some common problems and symptoms to watch for that may indicate your child is experiencing depression.
Common Signs & Symptoms Include:
- Constant feelings of irritability, sadness, or anger for at least two weeks
- Not finding fun in activities once enjoyed with no interest in trying
- Poor self-image — feeling worthless, guilty, or just "wrong" in some way
- Sleeping too much or not enough
- Frequent, unexplained headaches or other physical problems
- Crying at anything and everything
- Gaining or losing weight without consciously trying to
- Difficulty concentrating, grades dropping because of it
- Feeling helpless and hopeless or guilty about things that aren’t their fault
- Ideating on death or suicide (Evaluation by a mental health professional is essential - for serious threats, take your child to ER immediately.)
More Than Sad
Teen depression is more than feeling temporarily sad or blue. It’s a serious and debilitating mood disorder that can alter thoughts, feelings, and even daily activity. Depression often causes hopeless and helpless feelings and is far more prevalent in teens than commonly believed.
If you think your teen is suffering from depression, it's critical for them to know that they are not alone and they're not a hopeless case. Even though a period of depression may seem endless, there are a number of things that you as a parent can do to help restore balance, energy and positive feelings in your child once again.
What You as a Parent Can Do
- Be patient, understanding and build empathy.
- Remember, it is not their fault. Your child is likely much more frustrated about it than you are.
- Talk to your child or if they refuse to open up to you, find another mutually trusted adult they can talk to.
- Practice the art of listening without judging or trying to fix the situation. Earn the right to be heard.
- Help your child find balance by discovering their limits. Control the calendar. Avoid over scheduling and role model balance in your own life.
- Encourage them to volunteer with you. It takes the focus off of their problems.
- Notice the number of negative things you say vs. positive and err on the side of positive.
Verbal Affirmation - Your Words Matter
- Let them know they are not alone and they are not the only one feeling this way.
- Tell your child how proud you are of them and that you'll always be there for them.
- Verbally recognize anything positive your teen is doing ex: going to soccer practice, holding down a part-time job, helping with dishes, being kind to a sibling.
- Don’t tell them you are disappointed they are not hanging out with friends or participating in things they used to enjoy. They are probably more disappointed than you.
Healthy Choices for Mind & Body
- Get sufficient exercise and sleep
- Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains over refined carbs and sugar
- Avoid alcohol and drugs
- Limit caffeine intake
- Get outside and let the sunshine be a natural mood booster.
Make Time for Friends
- Avoid having your child in isolated situations.
- Encourage time together with good friends rather than staring at a screen, which can make things worse.
- Spend time with a favorite four-legged friend.
- Find time for fun
- Spend down time as a family
- Monitor social media and general device usage