Is My Teenager Depressed?

Teen depression

A deeper emotional problem could be lurking behind the eye rolls, the silent treatments, and the disrespect but you can’t seem to fix it and make it all better like you used to. Could your teen be depressed?

If left untreated, depression can impact a teenager’s entire life. What are the signs and symptoms? Is there a critical stage when it’s necessary to seek professional help?

For me, this topic is very personal. I suffered from depression as a teen and would like to educate as many parents as possible about what to do to help.

Is it Plain Moodiness or Depression?

Just about every teenager goes through periods of moodiness or sadness. You can barely understand their text messages much less understand what their feeling inside at any given moment.

There are tell-tale signs/patterns of teen depression that are somewhat different from adult depression to pay attention to:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Excessive irritability, hostility
  • Low energy and overall disinterest in once enjoyed activities
  • Poor school performance
  • Excessive time spent on the Internet or on the smartphone
  • Isolation
  • Low self-worth
  • Sleeping a lot
  • Poor hygiene, lack of pride in appearance
  • Crying for no apparent reason
  • Hopelessness, shame, guilt
  • Aggressive, violent behavior
  • Highly sensitive to criticism
  • Self-injury (e.g. cutting the skin with razor blades, glass, branding the skin with hot metal)
  • Engaging in reckless driving(running red lights, stop signs, drag racing or train racing)
  • Painting dark/gory pictures, writing poetry or songs about death/suicide
  • Running away from home
  • Sensitivity to criticism
  • Hanging out with a different group of friends
  • Engaging in high-risk sexual behavior
  • Fake enthusiasm to hide sadness
  • Talks or jokes about suicide or shows an obsession with death, firearms
  • Mysterious aches and pains
  • Drug and/or alcohol abuse
  • Surfing the Internet on how to commit suicide
  • Suddenly giving away personal belongings
  • Calling, writing or visiting people to “say goodbye”
  • Unusual calmness or feeling of peace after experiencing a period of sadness
  • Attempted suicide
  • Suicide
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Social Status and Family Background

Roughly five percent of teens from all backgrounds and social statuses suffer from depression of which many experience it without ever getting help!

Unlike adults who have better self-awareness to seek help, teens have a tendency to sink further in emotional quicksand when they don’t have someone more mature to support them.

My Teen Has Nothing to Be Depressed About!

What could be so bad in my teen’s life to make them depressed?

To be blunt, a lot. Genetic traits (e.g., bipolar disorder), traumatic events, academic pressures from school, bullying, insecurity of body image and/or sexual orientation, the death of a family member or close friend or just listening to bad news on TV.

Although your teen likely doesn’t have to shoulder adult responsibilities, all of the above stressors can take their toll.

Social Media and Suicide

Even if your child hasn’t reached the stage where they wish to self-harm or take their life, the idea can be planted in their mind via social media. I think one of the sickest things I’ve ever come across on the Internet is social media sites that purposefully promote suicide.

These type of sites are very sophisticated and allow your teen access to graphic scenes and detailed instructions on how to end their life.

So please, be diligent about what your teen browses while on the Web!

Suicide Season

According to statistics, the most common season for teens to commit suicide is the fall, with firearms, hanging and suffocation being the most prevalent suicide routes.

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When to Seek Help

When your teen is suffering from depression, they have even less reason to achieve academically, get along with their siblings, seek positive friends or even to get out of bed in the morning.

It’s recommended to seek professional help when the stage of your teen’s depression lasts over two weeks. Listen for statements such as, I’d be better off dead or I wish I were never born!

Final Thoughts

Depression isn’t talked about nearly enough. Although it’s treatable, too many adolescents suffer from depression without getting the guidance, support and treatment they so desperately need to get their life back to normal.

Your teen could still fall prey to depression regardless of their social status or background and not even appear to be sad. However, when you see clear, ongoing signs that your teenager is depressed, take action before any more time passes:

Step 1. Look for warning signs

  • Excessive irritability and angry outbursts
  • Self-destructive behavior, obsession with knives, guns and other lethal objects
  • Obsession with death
  • Excess time spent playing video games, surfing the Web or using their smartphone

Step 2. Seek the help of a professional

Step 3. Offer your unconditional love and support through the recovery process

Clinical depression can linger on for months and even years which often leads to more and more self-destructive behavior and eventually suicide.

Feel free to ask any questions you have about teen depression and how it can be treated successfully below…

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Dawn is an experienced classroom teacher. As a mom of four, she has learnt many ways to keep life and learning fun. One of her favorite pastimes is sharing her life's lessons with others.