It is crucial to understand that teenage depression is quite different from adults. This is because depression does not show the same symptom in teens as it does in adults. This makes depression in teens very difficult to diagnose. However, it is imperative that parents and other adults who work with teens understand the fact that depression in teenagers is as high as depression in adults, and can possibly lead to self harm or maybe suicide. Every adult should know how to tell if your teen is depressed.
The first and most important thing to realize is that teenagers with depression do not show the same activity as adults with depression. The problem for many parents becomes the fact that much of the behavior that is shown to be teenage depression are the same behaviors that many teens have at some stage. However, a diagnosis of clinical depression may present with the following behaviors:
- Feelings of not being understood by adults in the teen’s life-These feelings are often expressed in subtle behavior changes.
- Increasing antisocial behavior-This includes isolation from friends and favorite activities.
- Trying to leave home and/or attempting to run away
- Negative attitude and complaining of feeling “picked on” or disapproved of
- Sudden increase in aggression
- Withdrawal from the family and other social activities
- Spends more time by themselves and prefers to be isolated.
- Lack of adequate hygiene
- Sudden decrease in grades
- An unexplained weight loss or gain of over five pounds
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Other self destructive behaviors (cutting, increased risk taking etc.)-
It should be noted that if your teenager is depressed they may exhibit only some or all of these symptoms. Parents should also understand that gender plays a part in how the depression will be exhibited. Teen girls with depression may become preoccupied with things of a morbid nature, while teenage boys will act up, becoming aggressive at school or at home, and perhaps getting into trouble with the police.
Parents are often confused and frustrated when their teens begin to act like this. They react out of fear, frustration and a lack of education. Some parents become stern disciplinarians, or even put the teen down, which only serves to increase feelings of guilt and depression. They tell their teen “to just get over it” which can only heighten the problem of self acceptance. Some parents feel too helpless to react, and stand by waiting for adulthood to arrive. It is crucial to understand that ignoring and not treating depression will not make it better. Parents and other adults must be vigilant about the signs of depression, and seek help for their teen, if they begin exhibiting symptoms.
The good news is that with proper diagnosis and treatment a depressed teen can be greatly helped. There are steps that can be taken to help expedite the treatment of depression. These are:
- Have a medical opinion-Parents should understand that symptoms of depression can be the end result of a variety of illnesses, including thyroid, viral infections, and other factors. Your doctor can also prescribe medications, if they feel the situation is warranting that.
- Encourage your teen to exercise daily-Even a brief walk can be a mood booster.
- Seek out counseling-It is important that your teen have the opportunity to talk to someone they trust. Find a counselor who is experienced in treating teen depression.
Teenagers are notoriously moody, but if your teen exhibits the above described symptoms for over two weeks, they could be depressed. It is important to take teen depression seriously and remember that when it is treated, teens have a very high cure rate.