As we all know, the adolescent years are filled with growing pains and school drama that may make it harder to spot the difference between a “moody teenager” or symptoms of clinical depression. While less common in children under the age of 12, the risks of depression increases significantly in adolescence. Studies show that one-in-five teens between 13-18 years old will experience depression before adulthood, as will 13% of kids between the ages of 5-15.
Depression is a common mental condition that can affect all age groups and, if left untreated, can have severe effects on the those we care about. However, perhaps the most frightening statistic for parents is this: Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15-to-24.
It’s important for parents and caregivers to know what signs could indicate your teenager is struggling with something more serious than age-appropriate moodiness. If clinical depression runs in the family, it is especially important for adults to communicate with children and teens while being open, loving, non-judgmental, and accepting.
Here are some signs your teen may be suffering from depression:
- Problems at school: Depressed teens have more trouble concentrating. They may exhibit a lack of motivation and a decreased interest in activities that used to excite them. Some teens even refuse to go or participate with online school and they may have a sudden decline in grades.
- Poor self-esteem: As their bodies adjust to puberty and growth, it’s not uncommon for the teenage years to be filled with insecurity. However, plunging self-steem can be a major sign of depression. If your teen seems to never be happy with their appearance or is overly-critical with themselves, their lack of confidence could be a symptom of feeling unlovable or worthless.
- Changes in sleep: Depression can lead to people either oversleeping or suffering from insomnia. The two extremes can be a red flag for your teenager, as well as a sudden change in sleep activity. Some depressed teens may be more slow-paced than usual, while others could take up a more anxious, fast-paced state that involves nervous pacing or constant fidgeting.
- Changes in eating and weight: Food can be a go-to vice for feelings depressed. Those who are experiencing clinical depression may have a sudden, extreme increase in appetite, or no appetite at all. Many studies have shown that worries over weight trigger depression in teen girls. In addition, females who are already overweight or obese are two times more likely to experience clinical depression.
- Deep sadness that goes on for 2+ weeks: Crying for what appears like no reason, irritability, a negative change in behavior, could all be signs of depression. If your teenager has appeared deeply sad for over two weeks, this consistency could align with a persisting mental health condition that should be addressed with a provider.
If you feel your child is suffering from symptoms of depression, talk to them and know that Oasis Mental Health is here to help. You can request an appointment here or place a confidential call to one of our patient coordinators to talk about our quick and easy evaluation process.