Have you ever worried your child is depressed? Have you ever wondered if you would be able to recognize that your child is struggling with depression, before it became a problem?
Many parents have hoped that they will never have to worry about depression with their child. Many worry that if they don’t catch the signs early, their child’s safety could be put at risk. In this post, I’ll share the signs that most frequently effect teens and what you can do about it if you notice them within your own family.
Don’t all teenagers have fluctuating emotions?!?! This is a tricky one because, yes, teens have frequent moods swings. You will see rudeness, attitude, and irritability in both a depressed and non-depressed teen. However, not every emotional outburst means that your child has clinical depression.
It is important to note that children and teens do not experience depression in the same way adults do.
They do not stay locked away in their bedrooms, lying in bed, for days and weeks on end. They are not sluggish for days and weeks on end. Rather, they may have one day where they seem sullen and the next day they are outside running and playing with their younger siblings. Or she may be somber on Tuesday, cheerily and happily meeting her friends for dinner after practice on Wednesday, and sulky on Thursday.
Just because your child is not showing depression in the way you imagine it, does not mean they are not experiencing it.
Another thing to pay attention to is how frequently the fluctuations occur. Did he just have a bad 1 or 2 days and then was immediately back to his normal self? Or have you noticed that he continues to be irritable over several days to weeks at a time?
If these fluctuations occur over longer periods of time (such as 2 weeks or more) then that could be a sign your child is struggling with some depressive symptoms.
Change in Friend Group
As many of you know, friends become a teenager’s number one priority. Parents are no longer seen as a valuable resource and teens have a tendency to go to their friends for advice and support.
When a child is struggling with depression, they most likely will not become a complete loner due to the importance of friends at this stage in development. Rather, they could have a significant change in their friend group. They may change groups all together or associate with a smaller group of friends (1 or 2 people) more regularly.
Though they appear to be emotionally stable because he or she is still socializing, the sudden change in their friend group or changing to a smaller group of friends could be a sign your child is struggling with depression.
Change in Typical Behavior
Think about your child as their most normal self. How would you describe him or her? Is he a talkative and outgoing kid? Is she a sensitive yet resilient teen?
One of the most important signs to look out for is a change in your child’s typical behavior. If he is a friendly and sociable person who is now withdrawn that is something to pay attention to. If she is a calm and shy person who is now rude and hyper that is something to pay attention to.
Your child does not always have to meet the exact textbook or WebMD definition for depression. Sometimes, all it takes is a change in their typical behavior to be an indication your teen is struggling emotionally and needs your support.
My child might be depressed…
Don’t panic. If you think your teen is showing some of these signs, here’s what you can do about it:
- Talk to them. Tell your child you’re worried about them and that you’ve noticed they’ve been acting differently lately. Ask if they want to talk or if they need any help. Be prepared for them to decline your invitation. If they do, don’t panic. Keep a watchful eye and be prepared for them to approach you at a later time.
- If your child does admit to feeling depressed. Listen to them. Try to avoid giving a pep talk and really hear them out. This will let your teen know they can trust you and come to you when they are hurting.
- If your child continues to deny they are depressed after several attempts to speak with them, try to catch your child in the middle of one of their mood swings or outbursts. Tell them, “This is not like you and it’s what I’ve been trying to talk to you about. What’s going on?” If they still will not share with you, consider speaking with a counselor about how to help support your child.
Though this is not an exhaustive list, you now are equipped with 3 significant signs to be aware of. Have you noticed any other signs with the teens in your life? Comment below.
Share this article in the hopes that it will help a parent, friend, or family member who is worried about a teen in their life.