One of the more devastating effects of hostile parenting is depression in the involved children. As a responsible parent, make sure that you understand and know the warning signs of severe depression in teenagers.
Is your teen showing signs of teenage depression?
How do you tell the difference between teenage blues and a serious condition?
Although there may be one or two teens on the planet that are happy and cheery every day, but the average teenager is prone to mood swings, and occasional melancholy so debilitating they can not even get out of bed in morning.
Is this a sign of depression? If this goes on for several days at a time, it may be.
Misconceptions About Teenage Depression
Misconceptions about teenage depression are as numerous as everything else about teens. A big problem is that parents allow the generation gap to get too big to cross.
Once this happens, we view our teens as aliens. As some type of creature impossible to understand. This is the time when you need step back and remember what you where like as a teen.
Yes, dealing with teenagers is tough. But keep in mind, the majority of teens are able to balance internal angst with positive influences, solid friendships, academic success or extracurricular activities, and developing a strong self-image.
Occasionally feeling down or acting irrationally is part of growing up, but depression is completely different. Depression is deep-rooted and can destroy the very essence of your teen’s personality. This causes overwhelming sadness, deep despair, or inexplicable anger.
Unlike adults that usually recognize they may need help, teens don’t think that way. It is up to parents, teachers or other caregivers to recognize the signs of teenage depression, and get help for the child.
All of these inexplicable feelings make them feel scared and vulnerable – especially if they feel there is no one he can talk to.
So, if you have a teenager in your life, learning the signs of teenage depression could mean the difference between life and death.
Symptoms and Signs of Teenage Depression
Teens face a huge weight of pressures. They have to deal with puberty changes, questions about how to fit in and who they are.
Are they extensions of their parents? How can they break the mold and become their own person?
These years also bring a lot of conflict with parents as the teen starts to assert their independence. With so much going on, it’s not always easy to tell the difference between normal teenage moodiness and signs of teenage depression.
To complicate things even more, teens with depression don’t always appear sad or withdrawn. Some teens become irritable and aggressive.
Signs and symptoms to be aware of:
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Frequent crying or tearfulness
- Hostile, quick to anger or irritable
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- No interest in anything
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits
- Restless and easily agitated
- Irrational feelings of guilt and worthlessness
- No enthusiasm or motivation
- Lack of energy
- Trouble concentrating
- Thoughts of suicide
Every teen will show all or most of these symptoms at one point or another, but if the symptoms continue, or get worse there could be a deeper problem.
Many behaviors seen as rebellious are actually signs of teenage depression. To cope with their emotional pain, a teen may:
- Start having trouble in school. Depression causes a lack of energy and difficulty concentrating. This may lead to skipping classes, incomplete assignments, and a drop in grades.
- Running away. Depressed teens will often try to run away from home. This is usually a cry for help.
- Low self-esteem. Feelings of shame, failure, worthlessness and ugliness are intensified.
- Drug and alcohol abuse. Many teens turn to drugs or alcohol to numb feelings of depression.
- Spend too much time on the internet. Teens may try to escape from their problems online. But this will only increase their isolation and deepen their depression.
- Behave recklessly. Depressed teens often engage in reckless and dangerous behaviors, such as careless driving, excessive drinking, and unsafe sex.
- Become violent. Some teens with depression (usually boys being bullied) become violent. In some cases, this self-hatred can erupt into a homicidal rage.
Depression in teenagers is also associated with several other mental health problems, such as eating disorders.
Don’t Keep Quiet
If you see any sings of teenage depression, speak up right away. Troublesome behavior and mood swings may not be depression, but they are a definite sign that something is wrong, and the problem needs to be addressed right away.
Share your concerns in a loving, non-judgmental way. Let your teen know which specific signs of depression you have noticed and why you are worried. Encourage your child to tell you what is going on inside.
Your teen will probably have a hard time opening up. He may feel too ashamed, and feel like no one will understand. Alternatively, a depressed teen may not be able to explain or express how he feels.
If your teen insists nothing is wrong, but can’t explain the depressed behavior, trust your instincts. Your teen may not believe these emotions are depression.
Seek Professional Help if Necessary
Depression can be very damaging if left untreated. You can’t ignore the condition, and hope it will go away on its own.
If you notice any warning signs of teenage depression, seek professional help. Take your teen to your family doctor for a screening immediately.
The best plan is to keep a journal of your child’s behavior, so you can give your doctor a detailed history of the signs you noticed, the frequency of outbursts and any other changes in personality.
You should also inform your doctor about any family members that have been diagnosed with depression or some other mental health disorder. The depression screening includes a complete physical examination and blood tests to determine if any of the symptoms may be caused by a medical condition.
Severe cases of depression are often treated with medication to help ease the symptoms. However, antidepressants are not usually the best option. Medications often have many risks and side effects, which present a number of safety concerns to children.
Carefully consider if the benefits are worth the risks before allowing your teen to take antidepressants.