The path to adulthood is charged with self-discovery and exploration. Moodiness is normal. If your teen is struggling, it can simply be growing pains, but it can also be something more serious. How do you differentiate between regular teenage angst and teenage depression?
Signs of teenage depression
Loss of interest in activities, major changes in eating or sleeping habits, and persistent sadness, are all common signs of depression.
In teenagers especially, parents should look out for –
- Social isolation – Social status and friendships are particularly valuable to most teens. If your teen is withdrawing from social activities, it may be a marker of depression.
- Excessive use of technology – For a lot of younger people, technology has become a means of escapism. If your teen’s online activity is dramatically increasing, they may be seeking an escape from the pain they’re experiencing.
- Neglect of appearance – Depression is exhausting. A depressed teen can feel that maintaining their appearance drains their energy, or is just meaningless.
- Extreme sensitivity to criticism – Depression often makes people doubt their self-worth. A teen struggling with depression may feel that every critique or negative remark validates their own feelings of worthlessness.
- Poor performance in school – If your teen shows a steadily decreased interest in learning and grades, it may signal that something deeper is going on.
How a parent can help
The most valuable tools you can give your child are honesty and open communication. Don’t be afraid to ask the questions that are plaguing you. Being vulnerable in front of your child opens up a channel of communication. You may ask something like, “I’ve noticed you haven’t been going out with your friends lately. I’m worried about you. Is everything ok?”
If your child expresses feelings of hopelessness, self-doubt, and overwhelming sadness, it may be a good idea to reach out for professional help. Therapy can give your child a safe space to confront their struggles and come up with practical solutions, all with the guidance of an experienced psychologist.
Reach out today