How to Recognize Depression in Teens

It’s no secret that teens can be moody, irrational, and downright annoying at times. As adults, most of us can remember how emotionally charged those tumultuous teen years were with intense highs and lows. However, ordinary teen moodiness is not the same as clinical depression.

Statistics show that depression strikes 8.3 percent of teenagers in the United States. This serious mental health condition can lead to academic failure, substance abuse, self-mutilation, bullying, eating disorders, and even suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Signs of Teen Depression

Warning signs of depression may be open hostility, irritable behavior, isolation, or problems socializing. A depressed teenager may get easily frustrated with trivial issues, feel hostile, grumpy, or be prone to angry outbursts. Teens may also be overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and worthlessness, making them vulnerable to rejection, criticism, and failure, which in turn may deal a blow to their self esteem and drag them deeper into the pit of depression.

Of course, many of these symptoms also paint a picture of normal teenage behavior. However, if some of the following symptoms last for two weeks or more, your teen may be dealing with depression:

  • Hopelessness, sadness, and tearfulness
  • Frequent crying
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Lack of motivation, enthusiasm, and energy
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Changes in sleeping pattern
  • Unexplained aches
  • Occasional bouts of anxiety
  • Extreme moodiness
  • Increase in irritability or hostility
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor self esteem
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Irritable, uncommunicative mood
  • Suicidal thoughts

Dealing with Teenage Depression

As a parent, it is important to try and encourage your child to open up and share some of his feelings. Be supportive by listening to his concerns without criticism. Even if you don’t understand or agree with what he’s saying, just acknowledging his concerns can help him to feel more comfortable about talking to you.

Also, keep in mind that a good night’s sleep is crucial for a teenager suffering from depression. Recent studies indicate teens with consistent bedtimes are less likely to experience depression and thoughts of suicide. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends nine hours of sleep for teens every night.

Research reveals that teenage suicide is the third leading cause of death of young people in the United States. Left untreated, teenage depression can have serious consequences. An alarming number of teenage suicide attempts are successful, so it’s very important for parents to take their child’s behavioral changes seriously and support them in every way possible. If you suspect your child is suffering from depression, please contact a qualified professional to make sure they receive a proper diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.