As most parents are well aware, the teen years can be trying and tumultuous times for both the adolescent and the adults in their lives. When a parent watches their once happy-go-lucky, gregarious child transforms into a moody teen, it can be a disquieting and often somewhat bewildering experience. Although moodiness is quite normal in teens, parents must also stay alert for signs of depression during their child’s adolescent years.
As a child moves through puberty, their bodies and brains undergo a series of rapid changes. Coupled with societal and peer influences — and depending on the environment at home — this can be a confusing and difficult period for an adolescent, often marked by anxiety and even moments of despair. But in normal situations, although they will surface from time to time, these symptoms come and go and are usually short-lived as the teen continues to progress toward achieving a balance in their life.
Signs of Depression
Teen depression affects approximately 10 to 15 percent of adolescents. Signs of potential sufferers of adolescent depression include:
– a persistent sad and melancholy demeanor
– expressed feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
– constant fatigue
– hints at thoughts of suicide.
If left unaddressed, this affliction can have dire consequences. In fact, suicide is the third leading cause of death in teenagers.
Differences in Teen and Adult Depression
A number of contrasts exist between depression symptoms in adolescents and adults. For instance, adults will often withdraw from those around them and become more isolated. However teens, while withdrawing to a degree from the adults in their lives, will often continue to associate with their close friends.
Though a depressed teen may experience changes in sleeping patterns, they will still find time to sleep, even at odd hours. Adults are more prone to experience insomnia when they are depressed. In addition, depressed adolescents will generally express their feelings and emotions through anger and irritability, as opposed to depressed adults who are often more sad and withdrawn.
Parents must remain vigilant and “in-tune” with their child’s behaviors and attitudes throughout their teen years. If problems exist that appear to go beyond what is expected of the “normal” adolescent, parents should not hesitate to contact a mental health professional for advice.
Through expert diagnosis and counseling, and possibly the administration of anti-depressant medications, adolescent depression can be successfully treated, paving the way toward a healthy, productive adult life.
This blog is written and published by Lindner Center of HOPE.