Children are not immune to depression. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, an estimated 2 percent of young children and 4-8 percent of adolescents suffer from depression. While it can exist in younger kids, depression is more common in teenagers.
Teens who have depression may show several subtle warning signs. “Parents often worry about bringing up depression because they feel like they may be planting the seed. It’s important parents feel comfortable talking to their kids and recognize what’s going on,” said Jeff Johnson, Director of Clinical Services at The Medical Center of Aurora’s Behavioral Health & Wellness Center.
9 Signs That Your Teen May Be Suffering With Depression:
- Deep Sadness:
Sadness that persists for more than two weeks could be a sign of depression. If you notice extreme behaviors such as excessive tearfulness, it may be a sign your child is struggling to manage the overwhelming emotion they’re feeling. Teens may also talk about suicide or physically harming themselves through cutting or another method. Your child’s friends can be very helpful in identifying the symptoms and alerting parents to any suicidal threats.
- Changes in Eating Habits or Weight
“The American Journal of Epidemiology” reviewed the role of weight in depression in teens. The study found girls who were overweight or obese were nearly twice as likely to have depression as girls with a healthy body weight. Keep an eye on your teenager at the dinner table. Changes in eating habits can also be a sign of teen depression. Watch to see if your son or daughter is eating significantly more or less and talk with your teen about what is bothering him or her.
- Changes in Sleep Patterns and Activity
Teenagers always seem to be tired, but this could be a sign something more serious is going on. If your son or daughter is having significant trouble sleeping or is sleeping more than usual, it may be time to call for professional help. Activity level may also be a warning sign. Some teens may show slowed movements and a lower activity level. Conversely, they may seem physically agitated, nervously pacing, chewing nails or wringing their hands.
- Changes in Mood and Behaviors
One tell-tale warning sign that a teen may be suffering from a mental disorder is drug or alcohol use or promiscuous and risky behavior. A teen may feel very discouraged or develop an unusually negative attitude. When a usually happy teen suddenly becomes agitated, irritable and very easily upset, depression may be to blame. Teens who are depressed may also exhibit drastic changes in temperament.
- Plunging Self-Esteem
If your son or daughter never seems to be satisfied with their appearance or spends more time getting ready for school or other events, this could be a sign that they are not happy with themselves on the inside. Some teens may seek constant reassurance from parents, teachers or friends. Teens who are depressed think negatively and very critically about themselves, saying they feel unloved or worthless, so talk with your son or daughter about why they’re feeling this way.
- Withdrawal from family, friends and favorite activities:
This can be tricky because children and teens may have frequent falling outs with friends. Here are some questions to ask yourself as a parent: “Are they spending a lot of time alone or engaged in activities that separate them from family and friends?” “Are they tired a lot?” or “Do they just want to lie down for a bit or be by themselves?” Another key indicator is lack of interest in what once was a favorite activity.
- Problems at School
Declining grades, missing assignments and excessive absences could be a big sign something is wrong. Teens who are depressed may struggle to concentrate, have a hard time paying attention at school and have difficulty making decisions. If your student is refusing to go to school, it may be a good idea to set an appointment with a school counselor to discuss what could be happening.
- Aches and Pains
Teens with depression may also complain of physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches or fatigue that don’t have a clear cause.
- Suicidal Thoughts
A nationwide survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found more than a quarter of teens in high school felt sad or hopeless every day for at least two weeks which is a key sign of depression. Sixteen percent had seriously contemplated attempting suicide in the past year and about 13 percent reported creating a plan. If you think your son or daughter is experiencing one or more of these symptoms, don’t wait. It’s important to seek help immediately.
Behavioral health treatments at The Medical Center of Aurora are designed for you or a loved one’s success. Their holistic approach to care means they treat the whole person and recognize the importance of emotional, physical and medical issues. The Medical Center of Aurora’s Behavioral Health & Wellness Center offers a 24/7 walk-in crisis assessment. For more information on Behavioral Health Treatment at The Medical Center of Aurora, click here. The 24/7 crisis line number is 844.556.2012. This segment was provided by Dr. Christopher Rogers and Jeff Johnson, at the Medical Center of Aurora’s Behavioral Health and Wellness Center.
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