Depression in Teenagers: What You Need to Know
Having a teenage child necessitates a lot of care and worry. Dealing with slamming doors, mood swings from one day to the next, or alcohol use can be very difficult. Such behavior is very common among teenagers. But, what kind of behavior are actually signs of depression? Check out the following list.
- Sad and empty feelings
- Feeling of helplessness and guilt
- Lack of interest
- Difficulty concentrating and remembering
- Suicide attempts
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Appetite loss or overeating
- Persistent headaches, digestive problems, and other pains
Teens experience some of the symptoms above daily. But, depression in teenagers typically occurs in combination with eating disorders, anxiety or substance abuse. What every parent can do is to look for any alterations in their teen’s normal behavior.
Normal behavior differs for each child, but the goal is to identify the norm to then see the behavior changes. Depression occurs for many reasons. Some teenagers struggle adjusting to the typical changes faced throughout their transition to the adulthood. Depression can be caused by non-supportive social environments, early childhood adversity, parental depression or increasing adverse experiences. These adversity experiences increase during mid to late adolescence.
Many mental health counselors agree that hormones and social pressure are a major cause of distress for adolescents. They feel a huge pressure to fit in and they are learning how to make the right choices. Hormonal changes in their bodies do not make the situation any easier. Parents are the ones who can be most effective by paying attention to their children. Girls especially try to act like everything is fine but even they might not know they are feeling depressed.
Apart from hormones and social pressure, poor interpersonal skills combined with negative thoughts can cause issues in changing relationships with family and friends. Teenagers are trying to fit in and they are looking for autonomy at the same time. This situation can be hard because they have to manage both tasks to succeed in a competitive environment.
Children are pressured by both adults and their peers to grow up faster than they should. Some of the reasons for this include early puberty, frequency of parental separation, bullying, peer communication, a decline in spirituality and tradition, disconnected communities, and more. Teenagers are under pressure to be very fit and have a great body, have multiple sexual partners, and compete academically.
Be a Helpful Parent
- Look for changes in behavior
- Encourage your child to share feelings and concerns
- Recognize your child’s strengths
How to fight against depression? Extracurricular activities, such as music, art, dance, sport, or drama can serve as protective factors against depression. These activities can help to build confidence and self-esteem. It is also important to recognize areas in which children have competence because this will help them to find a purpose to their lives. However, too many activities will leave no room for reflection and downtime.
It can be challenging to identify your teenager’s troubling behavior. It is recommended that you talk to your family doctor if you are worried about your teenager’s emotional or mental health.