There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to teen depression. It’s a sensitive topic that a lot of people shrug off. Sure, the teenage years are tough… we are all aware of that. Occasional mood swings and acting out are normal, but depression is different. It’s a serious problem that can destroy a teenager’s life. It can result to substance abuse, self-mutilation, pregnancy, violence and suicide. As a parent or a guardian, it’s a must for you to have a clear understanding of what Teen Depression is, including the signs and symptoms to watch out for. And I’m here to help you with that…
Teen depression is a mental and emotional disorder that causes constant feelings of sadness and lack of interest. According to statistics, 1 out of 8 adolescents struggle with teen depression but only 1 in 5 depressed teenagers receive help.
Warning Signs that your teen is depressed:
- Drastic changes in eating and sleeping pattern, with noticeable weight loss or weight gain.
- Changes in school behaviors and he/she finds it difficult to concentrate, or focus on a task. This can result to frequent absences from school and poorer grades.
- Withdraws and shows no interest to be with friends and family.
- Loss of interest in activities, hobbies or sports that he/she used to enjoy.
- Becomes physically or verbally aggressive which results to becoming disruptive in class or more conflicts with family members or peers than usual.
- Expresses feeling of guilt, worthlessness, failure and hopelessness.
- Always feeling tired. Lacks energy and motivation to do anything.
- Frequent crying and sadness without any reason at all.
- Expresses thoughts of self-harm, death and suicide.
Is your child showing these symptoms? Here’s what you should do…
Offer support. Let your depressed teen know that you are there for them unconditionally, without any judgement or pressure. Avoid bombarding them with questions. Just let them know that you are there to listen, support and help them all the way.
Never lecture. When you get your teenager to talk about their feelings, let them talk freely. Do not respond with a lecture or unsolicited advice. Never criticize them for their opinions, thoughts and feelings.
Don’t belittle or devalue their struggle (even if you think that it’s silly or irrational). Never tell them that what she is going through “is just normal or temporary and that he/she is just overreacting.” Resist the urge to try to talk them out of his/her depression. They will just push you away further.
Acknowledge their struggle. If you really want to help your depressed teen, you have to acknowledge and understand the pain and sadness that he or she is feeling. Take it seriously.
Be patient. Your teen won’t speak up right away or let you in their private bubble. Just be patient, gentle and never give up on them.
Seek medical help. If the situation doesn’t get better or is becoming worse, elicit help from a psychologist or psychiatrist. Depression can take away lives if left untreated so don’t wait till it’s too late.