The teenage years are a time of learning and personal discovery. Teens must also learn important social skills, how to manage his or her time and, in many cases, take on an increased work load at school and the responsibility of a part time job. Add this to the fact that teenagers are still growing both physically and psychologically, and it’s no wonder that many teens seem moody and irritable much of the time.
Some teens, however, find the demands of these years to be overwhelming and are unable to cope. Many of these teenagers develop depression, a serious mental health disorder that requires by trained professionals.
Some teens are predisposed to developing depression because it runs in their families, or because they are facing stressful situations that go beyond what most teens experience, such as the death or illness of a parent or sibling, or alcohol or in the household.
But how is a parent to know the difference between their teen acting and irritable in a way that’s typical and when their teen’s behavior exhibits signs of depression? Continue reading below for seven signs that your teen could be suffering from depression.
Poor grades or acting out at school.
A teen who is depressed may suddenly lose interest in going to school, or begin skipping school altogether. Formerly good students may begin missing homework assignments or experience a sharp drop in their grades. Teens who are normally well behaved might get into trouble for fighting or verbally disrespecting a teacher or other students.
A sudden change in social behavior.
If your teen suddenly seems to drop all of his or her friends to hang out with a new crowd. Especially one made up of kids who often get into trouble. Abuse drugs and alcohol or who have dropped out of school. Take it as a sign that he or she may be depressed and needs help.
Running away from home.
Often depressed teens will run away from home or express an interest in doing so. Some teens will go as far as saving up money to run away, or will work to make arrangements for transportation or a place to stay with people they know, or even strangers they meet on the internet. Not only is running away from home a cry for help. Teens who run away are often forced into sex work. Or become addicted to drugs, or become the victims of violent crime. If your teen has talked about running away, get him or her help as soon as possible.
Drug or alcohol use.
Often depressed teens will abuse alcohol and/or drugs in an attempt to dampen the feelings of depression that are taking over their lives. This type of self-medicating is not only bad for a teen’s health, it almost always makes their situation worse. Teens who abuse alcohol and drugs often get into trouble with the police. Are more likely to commit crimes and can become addicted to the substances they are using. They are also more likely to become victims of sexual assault and drop out of school.
Feelings of worthlessness.
Depression in teens can bring on feelings of , making him or her feel unattractive, like they are a failure or that they don’t deserve to be treated well or given certain privileges. Teens suffering from low self-esteem sometimes stop taking care of their personal hygiene or appearance, or might put unreasonable pressure on themselves to achieve things that are out of reach, setting themselves up for further failure. If your teen exhibits any of these behaviors, seek help immediately.
Excessive phone and internet use.
Depressed teens may begin spending a great deal of time online in an attempt to forget about their feelings. But usually makes teens feel even more isolated and can also make them feel worse about themselves, especially if they are interacting with people online they perceive to be more attractive or successful than they are.
Reckless or violent behavior.
Teens who are depressed may suddenly begin to engage behavior that is risky, violent or dangerous. Driving recklessly without regard to their own or others’ safety, fighting, alcohol and drug abuse, unsafe sex, spending time in unsafe neighborhoods or with people who are engaged in dangerous or illegal activities, or a sudden interest in firearms or mass shootings should all be taken as warning signs by parents and teachers and be addressed right away.
If you notice any of these behaviors in your teen, don’t panic. Make sure that a trained professional evaluates them as soon as possible. Treatment, which usually includes some type of talk therapy as well as anti-depressant medication, is highly effective for most teens.