Teens are moody. We expect it. The pressure of finding their way through adolescence to independence is hard work. We’ve all been there, but kids today have the added pressure of making it all seem effortless. There is no room for awkward pictures on Instagram.
So how do you know when “moody” is something darker?
When does normal teenage negativity wander into teen depression?
Do you recognize the following symptoms?
-Your teen is sad or angry. Tearfulness, irritability, and rage seem to be more and more pronounced parts of your teen’s moods. Low moods seem to “stick” for long periods of time. Outbursts and sullen behavior may seem to come out of nowhere. Unpredictably, anger and sadness dissipate slowly and reignite suddenly.
-Your teen is no longer “young and fun.” Fun activities, hobbies, or sports your teen once joyfully engaged in no longer spark his or her interest. Instead of trying out new activities, your teen finds little to get excited about and would rather do as little as possible.
-Your teen withdraws…sort of. Depressed grownups tend to isolate completely. Teen depression doesn’t tend to disconnect teens from all of their peers. Many teens change friend groups altogether or withdraw just from family members.
-Your teen is not him or herself. If your teen’s personality shifted radically or unusual behaviors appear to persist over a long period of time, your child’s moods deserve a closer look. Dropping grades, ditching school, or decidedly risky behavior from a formerly conscientious student is cause for concern.
-Your teen is convinced of his or her own worthlessness. Frequent references to his or her mistakes, failures, or irrelevance may have become a regular part of your teen’s conversation or commentary. If he or she seems to be especially vulnerable to criticism and rejection from peers and family members, teen depression may be the issue.
-Your teen is home sick…again. Teen depression often inspires complaints of “mystery” illnesses. Curious headaches, stomach pains, and fatigue can signal a deeper matter. If a trip to the doctor dispels the idea of a physical ailment, consider whether a mental health issue is the real problem.
Do you know when it’s time to seek help? It’s time to consult a mental health professional…
- When your teen’s symptoms are persistent
- If your teen shows signs of self-harm, such as cutting, disordered eating, or substance abuse
- If symptoms are severe or escalating
- If your teen is preoccupied with death and dying
Don’t doubt yourself. Your child’s mental health is worth the extra measure of care.
Teen depression is treatable.
If your teen is in the throes of the condition, he or she needs your help and guidance. It may be tough at first. Your teen may resist or deny the problem. But your teen needs you to see the problem, to take action.
A correct diagnosis, experienced therapist, and solid treatment plan will help your child learn to cope. Don’t wait to help restore your teen to a happier life.