It’s one thing to understand teen depression, but another thing entirely to deal with it. As parents, you want to help your teen be the best version of themselves—they need you now more than ever. It’s important to be able to spot the symptoms of depression so that you can take action right away. Also, knowing what can be done to help your teen going through a difficult time will help too.
Caregivers and parents of teens find it challenging to understand their teen’s depression. You know they are hurting, but how do you help? You may not be sure what to do for the best, or you may be searching for the right words to say.
What Is Teen Depression?
Depression is a term used to refer to feeling sad, hopeless, helpless, and worthless. Not everybody knows how to spot depression. Although sad feelings are common during adolescence, depression isn’t. It’s a serious condition that affects how teens feel, think, and act. The teenage years are a time of exploration, to discover who they are and what they truly want out of their lives. But depression can get in the way of this discovery. It stops them from doing what they want to do as well as enjoying themselves just by being too much.
Signs and Symptoms of Teen Depression
The good news about teen depression is that, with treatment, most people do recover. The bad news is that teen depression is often misdiagnosed, and many people don’t get treatment until their depression worsens. That’s why it’s so important for parents, guardians, and educators to recognize the symptoms of depression in teens. Common symptoms can include:
- Loss of Interest in Activities
Depression often affects one’s ability to concentrate, and teens often lose interest in hobbies and activities they used to enjoy.
- Changes in Sleeping Patterns
Teenagers experience a lot of changes—their bodies are changing, they’re developing emotionally, and their social lives are changing. Some teens experience insomnia, while others experience stretches of sleeplessness when they’re feeling particularly sad or anxious.
- Changes in Appetite
Moods affect eating behaviours. When depression strikes, people are often unable to eat much.
- Changes in Self-Esteem
Teen depression can seriously affect their self-esteem, causing feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness.
- Sleep patterns change
Teens who fall asleep in class often have trouble falling asleep again when they get home, and high school students who study late into the night often have problems staying asleep.
Self-hatred is the rejection of yourself. When you are self-critical, always judging yourself, you put yourself on a higher pedestal than you are.
- Feeling worthless
Teens who feel worthless, or have low self-worth, may isolate themselves from their family, friends, and peers, which can lead to depression, anxiety, and many other problems, including self-harm.
- Trouble concentrating
Troubled teens may struggle in school. Many of their classmates are distracted by noisy, exciting days at school, while teens who deal with depression are often too engaged with their emotions to pay attention in class.
Teens experience irritability, often leading them to lack motivation when it comes to school, friends, or any activities. In addition to irritability, teens with depression can experience poor sleep, anxiety, and difficulty maintaining friendships.
- Trouble making friends
Trouble making friends. Teens often have trouble communicating, which can lead to depression. Depression can cause your teen to lose interest in school and other activities and lose interest in family and friends.
Coping with Suicidal Thoughts of Teen’s Depression
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens. If teens struggling with depression go unacknowledged by parents or other family members, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts, which unfortunately can lead to death by suicide.
Teen depression is a serious issue, affecting teens and young adults in millions every year. Some teens develop depression from reoccurring traumatic events, like the loss of a loved one or major life changes. Other teens experience depression due to a major traumatic event. Depression can also develop because of friendship, school, or body image problems. Teen depression is often misunderstood, and it comes from the fear of judgment and stigmatization.
For parents, teens, and educators, much of the same advice applies to both adults and teens when it comes to dealing with suicidal thoughts. Understanding that suicidal thoughts are quite common and offering support—such as listening, showing genuine interest, and refraining from making judgments—is critical in reducing the feeling of stigma and shame that is often associated with suicidal thoughts.