Written by Abbey Wollschleger, LISW-S, Family Support Team Leader
It isn’t always easy to differentiate between depression and normal teenage moodiness. Making things even more complicated, teens with depression do not necessarily appear sad, nor do they always withdraw from others. For some depressed teens, symptoms of irritability, aggression, and rage are more prominent. As a parent, paying attention to the signs and symptoms of depression can help you recognize and help your child if he or she is struggling.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression:
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Irritability, anger, or hostility
- Tearfulness or frequent crying
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Loss of interest in activities
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Restlessness and agitation
- Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
- Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thoughts of death or suicide
If it is unclear whether your teen is depressed or just being a “typical teenager” consider how long the symptoms have been present, how severe they are, and how differently your teen is acting from his or her usual self. Dramatic, long-lasting changes in personality, mood and behavior can be red flags of a more serious issue.
Tips for Talking to your Depressed Teen:
Offer Support – Let your teen know that you are there for them no matter what. Try to resist asking a lot of questions, but make it clear that you are ready and willing to talk and provide support.
Be Gentle but Persistent – It can be difficult when you know your child is struggling and he or she shuts you out. It can be tough for teens to talk about depression. Be respectful of your teen’s comfort level while still expressing your concern and willingness to listen.
Listen without Lecturing – Resist the urge to criticize or pass judgment when your child does start talking. The important thing is that your child is communicating.
Validate Feelings – Try not to talk your teen out of his or her depression, even if his or her feelings appear silly or irrational to you. Simply acknowledge the pain and sadness he or she is feeling or your teen may feel like you don’t take his or her feelings seriously.
We can help!
If you believe that your child is struggling with depression, please contact us at (614) 294-8097 and ask to speak with someone in the Family Support Program. Depression can be very damaging if left untreated, so don’t wait and hope that the symptoms will go away.