The signs of teenage depression can often be mistaken for typical mood swings and ups and downs often associated with simply being a teenager. So, what’s considered normal? Is a teenager who’s on top of the world in one moment and then suffering from unexplained sadness the next normal or truly depressed?
If you’re a parent of a child between the ages of 10 and 18, asking yourself that very question is critical. Depression can affect one in five teenagers before their 18th birthday. Unfortunately, the disease often goes undiagnosed because it’s believed to be a normal part of life.
Understanding the Signs of Teenage Depression
Too often, parents dismiss the common symptoms associated with teenage depression as just typical teenage behavior. In addition, many teen suffering from this affliction will either hide their feelings or refuse to admit that there’s a potential problem. They may also be averse to seeking help from family or friends.
There are numerous symptoms associated with teenage depression, and they often mimic depression symptoms in adults. These include chronic fatigue, trouble focusing on tasks, lack of concentration and irritability. As depression progresses, the teenager can become anxious and distracted as they attempt to deal with this debilitating problem. Other symptoms include crying, shouting, general complaining or lethargy.
As with adults, depression may also become visible in a variety of unexplained and incurable physical problems such as aches and pains, headaches and digestive issues like an upset stomach. Other signs include a change in appetite and subsequent weight gain or loss along with a change in sleeping habits, such as insomnia or chronic fatigue. More serious symptoms include talk or thoughts of suicide or death.
If five or more of the above symptoms are exhibited for a period longer than two weeks, mothers and/or fathers should talk to their teenagers and seek professional help. Of course, if there is a threat of suicide, then parents should seek treatment and intervention immediately.
The Causes of Teenage Depression and its Effects
Teenage depression is often caused by external stress-inducing circumstances. These may include a divorce in the family, an upset in the family dynamic, financial problems, sexual or physical abuse, alcohol or drug problems within the family, a death in the family or trouble dealing with a recent trauma or tragedy.
For some, depression may be brought on by a teenager’s inability to meet certain goals. These can be academic or athletic goals. For others, they may involve social goals. For example, if a teenager fails to fit in or is bullied or rejected at school, this can have devastating effects on their self-esteem, causing bouts of anxiety and depression.
As for the effects of teenage depression, the onset can drastically impact a teenager’s family life, social relationships and academic accomplishments. Previous studies have shown that teenagers suffering from depression have higher levels of absenteeism, poorer grades and are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. Of course, the most severe consequence of teenage depression is suicide, which is why it’s critical to recognize the early signs quickly and seek assistance.