The teenage years are notoriously difficult, and even if your time spent as a teen feels like a distant memory now, you might remember some of the tough times you went through back then. Between hormonal changes, transitioning from a child to an adult body, social politics in schools, and academic pressures, there are a lot of things that can contribute to struggles with a teenager’s mental health. While feeling down sometimes isn’t uncommon for anybody, clinical depression is a very serious issue and isn’t always easy to see. If you are concerned about the mental well-being of your teenager, here are some key signs that they might be suffering from depression and what you can do to help.
Moody teenagers are not unusual; after all, they are wanting to break away from their parent’s rules and become more independent. You might find yourself arguing with your teenager from time to time or notice that they are giving you attitude. However, your teen appears to be consistently in an irritable mood; there might be more going on than just hormonal mood swings. It could be that they are developing depression, and their irritability is a sign of their frustration with their emotions or feeling misunderstood by those around them.
They might not be in a rush to get up and go to school in the mornings, but if your teenager appears to spend the majority of their time in bed, this should be cause for concern. If all they want to do is sleep or hide away in their bedroom, it might be because they don’t want to face realities that are outside of this space. Struggling to cope with everyday tasks or engaging with others could be a sign of depression or another mental health issue.
They Appear to be Lacking in Confidence
If you have noticed that your teenager doesn’t appear to have the same level of confidence that they used to, it might be due to low self-esteem, which is not uncommon when someone is depressed. Perhaps they are withdrawing from their peers or are unwilling to take part in other activities that they used to thrive at? They may have even expressed concerns about how they don’t feel good enough to achieve in life, whatever their aspirations might be.
Gaining or Losing Weight
Another indication that there might be something going on with your teen’s mental health is their weight. Depression can affect a person’s appetite, whether that results in them turning to food for comfort or having no appetite at all. However, it is also important to realize that if your teen’s weight is going up or down dramatically, this could be a sign of an eating disorder as well.
Signs of Self-harm
Self-harm is another common symptom of depression, particularly with teenagers. This can be very distressing for parents, and no one wants to see their child get hurt, let alone do it to themselves. While all symptoms of depression should be taken seriously, if you have noticed signs of self-harm in your teenager, you should call a doctor for advice as soon as possible, in case this leads to more severe injuries or suicide attempts.
What Should You Do if Your Teenager is Depressed?
As mentioned above, if you are concerned your teenager is depressed, you should speak to a medical professional for further advice. Your family doctor will talk through the options of treatment with you, whether that be medication, talking therapies, CBT, or a combination. If your teen is suffering from severe depression, you might need to look at getting them help via teen rehabilitation treatment which can be more intensive care for adolescents struggling with mental health and addiction.
While seeking medical help is important, you should also be making efforts at home to help your teenager cope with depression more healthily. You shouldn’t smother them, but let them know that they can come to you to talk about how they are feeling. When you do have these conversations, make sure that you are actively listening so that they feel heard and understood. Gently encouraging them to engage in activities they enjoy is also a good idea, as this can serve as a positive distraction for them when they are at home.
If you are concerned that your child will attempt to hurt themselves, make sure all dangerous chemicals and items are stored away securely somewhere they can’t get at them, such as a locked medicine cabinet or a closet.
Finally, try to be patient with them. As a parent, you will naturally be concerned and perhaps even frustrated at times with the circumstances. However, expressing this to your depressed teenager won’t help matters and is likely to make things worse. If you are worried about the mental well-being of your teen at home, look out for these typical symptoms of depression and contact your doctor for diagnosis and further guidance.