Depression in Adolescence: 7 Tips on How to Spot the Signs & Symptoms
All teenagers go through the ups and downs of life. It can sometimes feel like a challenge to eat, sleep, or feel motivated.
Depression, on the other hand, is more than just sadness or teenage emotion. It is a mental health disorder. It can be hard to tell if your teen’s struggle will just pass or if it will stay with them. This can depend on how long the emotions last, how strong they are, and how much it is interfering with their life.
Untreated depression leads to long-term consequences with mood and can even lead to suicidal ideation. To avoid the disastrous results of depression harming to your teen, it is important to spot the signs and symptoms of depression in adolescence.
1. An Angry or Sad Teenager
It is typical to have a teenager who is moody. As a parent, you may ask your teen child about their day and they respond, “Stay out of my business!” After rolling your eyes, you say to yourself, “Kids will be kids.”
Sadness or anger staying with your teen for days or weeks can mean there is something more going on. If your teen is going through trauma, it is normal to grieve in sadness or anger for a long time. But, if your child is sad or angry for no apparent reason for a long time, it is possible they are struggling with depression.
2. Changes in Eating Habits
Once girls and boys reach puberty, their weight changes. Both boys and girls face pressure to look a certain way. Boys might be told to be lean and muscular. Girls may be told to be skinny, yet curvy.
A low body image can result in depression. Are they hardly eating or skipping meals altogether? Eating more than usual could also be a coping mechanism for depression. Be mindful of noticeable changes your child’s eating habits.
3. Withdrawal From Favorite Activities
Teens love to hang out with their friends and join in on social activities. Teens with depression may no longer want to participate in these activities that used to make them happy.
If your teen goes from being social to suddenly closing themselves off, it could be a sign of depression.
4. Changes in Sleeping Patterns
Depression can change the way a teen sleeps. Some teens have insomnia where they have trouble falling asleep or others are sleeping too much.
It may seem as if your teen has been depleted of energy and that they would rather spend their days in bed. It can be the opposite for other teens, where someone is nervously pacing, biting their nails, or wringing their hands. These two extremes can alternate as well.
5. Low Academic Performance
When a teenager is happy, they have more energy to make the most of school. They might join clubs, make a lot of friends, and do well in their classes.
Teens with depression, on the other hand, will likely not participate in anything and their grades might start to slip. This is because they lack the motivation and energy to perform. Depression can make it difficult to concentrate, pay attention, and make decisions. A teen may be so depressed that they even skip school frequently.
6. Physical Pain
Teen depression can take the form of physical pain as well. Your teen could complain of headaches, stomachaches, or pain elsewhere for no apparent reason.
Another complaint could be about them experiencing fatigue and having no energy to do activities they once enjoyed. Even though this is the result of a mental illness, it does not mean your teen is imagining it or that it’s not real. It just means there is a chemical imbalance occurring with physical symptoms.
7. Suicidal Thoughts
If your teen is experiencing suicidal thoughts, they may come to you about this. However, it can often feel very shameful for them so they tend to keep it to themselves.
In addition to all the previously mentioned signs of depression, signs of suicidal ideation may look like giving away prized possessions, randomly appearing happy when they were sad before, dropping friends, or even “jokingly” talking about death or dying.
Are you worried that your teen is struggling with depression? Talk to them to find out and offer your support. Discuss the possibility of therapy to ensure their depression is treated and they can get back to living a happy life.