Untreated depression is dangerous. In the worst cases, it can lead to the people we love attempting suicide. That’s why it’s important to be able to recognize the signs: so that we can get our loved ones the help they need.
Teenagers can also experience depression. Teenagers can also, if their depression is left untreated, attempt suicide. That’s why it’s important that we, as parents are able to recognize the signs of depression in teens, specifically. If you have a teenager at home and are worried about their mental health, then be aware of these four important signs.
1. Persistent Low Mood
A teen with depression will experience low mood for weeks. This can mostly manifest as a sadness that never goes away. They might start being highly critical of themselves and show incredibly low self-esteem.
But depression can manifest differently too. Maybe they’re tired all the time. They don’t have the energy to do anything. They can’t do things like schoolwork, for example, but they might not be able to do the activities they love either.
2. Changes in Habits
Teens struggling with depression will change their habits, one way or another. Maybe you notice they’re not sleeping enough and are struggling with insomnia. Or maybe it’s the opposite. They sleep far too much, more than the eight hours you expect of them.
The same can be said for their eating habits. Either they’re eating a lot more than they used to and are rapidly gaining weight, or they’re not eating enough and are rapidly losing weight.
It’s also possible they stop taking care of themselves physically. Maybe they shower less often or they stop brushing their teeth. They might also stop doing activities they enjoy. They drop out of clubs they used to like, for example. These are things that, as a parent, you’re more likely to notice.
3. Unexplained Physical Pains
It’s possible that teenagers with depression may experience unexplained physical pain. This might seem odd, but depression can do that. It can make us feel like we’re ill, even if no doctor can ever pinpoint the source of these aches.
The pain your teen experiences is very real. Their minor illnesses aren’t fake just because they’re a product of depression. Rather, depression is hitting them so hard, that it just has to manifest physically. It’s a cry for help. And as parents, it’s our duty to answer it.
4. Behavioral Problems
A lot of teenagers’ depression goes untreated. This is because it manifests in ways that most people find annoying. It all gets chalked off as behavioral problems, and the reason why they act out is never addressed. They’re just dismissed as unruly teenagers when, really, they’re crying out for help in the only way they know how.
So, if a teen starts acting irritable and uncooperative, if they isolate themselves from their friends and family, and begin to skip school, then it’s very possible they’re struggling with depression. If you see they begin to use substances like drugs or alcohol when they never showed interest in them before, that might also be a sign of depression. It’s not uncommon for teenagers to turn to substances when they can’t get help elsewhere.
If you notice some or all of these signs in your teenage child, then please reach out for help. Counseling can help them get better. It can address the very real problem they have, and it can stop the spiral that eventually pushes teens with untreated depression towards suicide.
Counseling can help you too. It’s not easy to find out your child struggles with depression and it can take its toll on you.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re considering counseling for yourself or your teenage child. Schedule an appointment, and we’ll help you in any way we can.