Sadness is a normal part of our emotional spectrum. Teens, unfortunately, often seem to exist on a rollercoaster of emotions. This is also completely normal, to an extent. Teens are experiencing dramatic hormonal changes, testing boundaries, taking on their first adult responsibilities, and struggling to gain adult freedoms — all at once. It’s a lot to take on, and the stress can reveal itself through sweeping emotional changes.
At some point, however, this inability to control emotions can cross the boundaries of “normal” behavior. At this point, the adolescent has developed a mood disorder. One of the most common mood disorders among teens is depression. Depression is defined as a mood disorder causing a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. But how can you tell if your child is experiencing depression?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, some signs of teen depression include:
1.Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
2.Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
3.Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
4.Irritability and restlessness
5.Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
6.Fatigue and decreased energy
7.Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
8.Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
9.Change in appetite
10.Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
11.Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
If your teen is experiencing one or more of these symptoms, they may be suffering from depression. So, what can you do?
The first thing you should do is talk to them — one-on-one. Try not to involve anyone else yet, even other family members. It’s important to show your child that you respect their privacy.
Ask them what they think is causing the signs of depression. Their answer may be the key to solving the problem. It’s also important that they see that you are genuinely concerned.
Make an appointment to see the doctor. The reason for the signs of depression could be physical. It’s also important to check the family history to look for any history of clinical depression or other mood disorders.
Finally, make an appointment to see an adolescent psychology specialist. This may sound like a drastic measure, but adolescent depression is not something to take lightly, and the earlier it’s taken care of, the less likely it is to have long-lasting effects.