Adolescents are in the process of changing from boys and girls into men and women. Changing moods go with it. Moods are a teenager's way of coping with life, processing new information and feelings and taking a well-deserved "time out" from the hectic activities of the day.
But sometimes, a young person's behavior changes and the "blues" become much more serious. Depression is the No. 1 cause of suicide in the United States. The more parents can be aware of the signs and symptoms of teenage depression, the better the chances of helping them over the rough roads.
It's tough to know the difference between transitory, everyday "blues" and real depression. Mental health professionals encourage parents to go with your gut feelings. Use your instincts and err on the side of caution.
Signs of Teenage Depression
- Declining school performance
- Persistent expression of helpless or hopeless attitude
- Gloomy moods that persist for two weeks without improvement
- Sudden lack of interest in activities outside school
- Recent loss of a loved one, especially a family member
- Abrupt change in behavior, including withdrawal from family and friends
- Change in sleeping and/or eating habits
- Family problems, such as divorce
- Giving away cherished possessions
Every day, express your love and concern for your child. Take time each day to do nothing but pay attention to him or her. Make it easy for the teen to share feelings with you. Encourage your child to participate in healthy and fun activities like sports, hobbies, jobs or social activities with good friends.
If you spot one or more of the signs of depression in your teen, seek the advice and intervention of your Children's Physicians pediatrician or a mental health professional.