Depression is a commonly used term in modern society. The media, celebrities, books, magazines and various other facets of our society use the term depression to signify various degrees of emotional distress and sadness. As parents, teacher’s, caregivers and even friends of teens, it is important to be able to recognize the signs if your teen is depressed, talk openly about depression and be prepared and equipped with the proper resources to intervene. Furthermore, it is crucial to recognize when everyday stress and periods of sadness may be indicative of a more serious mental health problem.
Depression is the most common mental health disorder for children. Depression for children manifests in a similar pattern to depression in adults, however it can be difficult for children and teens to express how they are feeling, making depression more difficult to recognize. It is important for caregivers to be aware of the distinct features of feeling down, versus clinical depression which interferes with the teen’s ability to function in normal daily activities.
Teens are faced with increased pressure and stress, while also lacking the emotional maturity and development to handle these stressful situations and external pressures. Different from other age groups, teens have a unique set of worries. They often worry about being successful, popular and attractive. They may become preoccupied with school performance or tests, peer judgment or fear social embarrassment. They might also be concerned about what their future may hold either relationally or personally. There can be an increased pressure as well from parents at times to succeed educationally and socially.
It is important to recognize signs of that your teen may be depressed, or developing mental health issues for teens and young adults. Angry outbursts, anxiety, phobias, insomnia, lethargy, excessive weight gain or weight loss, appetite changes, sleep difficulties, refusal to go to school or engage in activities they previously enjoyed, inability to concentrate and melancholic mood are all symptoms that need to be addressed with your teen. If you notice that you teens functioning is being significantly impacted by any of these symptoms, it may be important to seek a counselling professionals help. Counselling for your teen can help reduce negative self-thoughts, improve mood and help strengthen their coping skills in facing life’s stressors. If you have serious concerns about a teen’s safety contact a therapist, medical provider or local distress centre promptly.