The teenage years can be a difficult time for both parents and teenagers. It’s normal for teens to experience a wide range of emotions, and sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between normal teenage moodiness and something more serious.
If your teen has been feeling down or exhibiting signs of depression, it’s essential to address the situation and get help if needed.
Here are a few tips to help you determine if your teen is experiencing common teenage emotions or if they may be struggling with depression.
Symptoms of Teenage Depression
Depression can affect anyone at any time. It is not a sign of weakness or bad parenting, and it can’t be overcome by just “cheering up.” Teenage depression is a serious medical condition that requires professional help.
Common symptoms of depression in teenagers include:
● frequent, long-lasting, or unexplained sadness
● feelings of hopelessness
● loss of interest or pleasure in any activities
● loss of motivation or energy to do enjoyable activities
● difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or performing in school
● changes in appetite and weight
● withdraw from family and friends
● low self-esteem
● episodes of anger or hostility
● causing harm to themselves or others
● suicidal thoughts or actions
If your teen is showing a combination of these symptoms, it’s important to make an appointment with a mental health professional.
Are They Exhausted From Activities or Fatigued Without Cause?
It’s normal for teenagers to spend more time sleeping and resting, especially when busy with school and extracurricular activities.
But in people living with depression, the fatigue can be so intense that it can be difficult to get out of bed even to perform everyday tasks. No matter how much sleep they get or what else is going on in their lives, they can still experience a deep physical and mental exhaustion that doesn’t go away.
Suppose your teen is unresponsive to attempts to get them up and active or is having difficulty completing their normal activities due to fatigue. In that case, it may be a sign of depression.
Are They Eating Differently Because They Are Growing, or is it a Mental Health Issue?
Going through puberty can cause a lot of changes in teenagers’ appetites. They’ll likely need more food than when they were younger, and their preferences for certain kinds of food may also change.
However, sometimes changes in appetite can signify something more serious. For some people, depression can lead to reduced enjoyment of food and snacks or even skipping meals entirely. For others, it may manifest as binge eating—overeating as an attempt to escape stress and anxiety.
Try to pay attention to their emotional relationship with food. If their eating habits have suddenly changed and it seems more connected to their mental health than physical changes, it may be a sign that they may need help from a professional.
Are They Harming Anyone, Including Themselves?
It’s not uncommon for teens to act out in response to stress, especially when they don’t know how else to express their feelings. But it’s important to take immediate action if your teen is exhibiting signs of self-harm, violent outbursts, or anything that might put them or others in danger.
Keep in mind that self-harm can take many forms, and it is not always obvious. Not only can it include physical injuries, such as cutting or burning, but it can also take the form of risky behavior, such as substance abuse, disordered eating, promiscuity, or driving recklessly.
Depression and other mental health issues can also cause unintentional problems in their life. If their emotional state significantly interferes with their quality of life or their ability to meet their responsibilities, it is time to seek help.
Depression is not something that teenagers can just “get over” on their own. It is not a situation where blame, guilt, or punishment will be effective.
It’s not anyone’s fault, and it’s not something that can be fixed by simply trying harder.
If your teen is struggling with depression, the best thing you can do is to seek professional help. A mental health professional can provide an accurate diagnosis and create an individualized treatment plan that considers your teen’s unique needs.