With the moodiness that comes along with being a teenager, it is difficult as parents to know if something more serious is going on in your teenagers life. Most teens feel unhappy at times but studies do show that one in twelve teens is suffering from depression. A major warning sign that your adolescent may need some help is if her unhappiness lasts for two or more weeks and or she is showing other symptoms. Some other signs of depression include:
- complaints of pains, including headaches, stomachaches, low back pain, or fatigue
- difficulty concentrating
- difficulty making decisions
- excessive or inappropriate guilt
- irresponsible behavior — for example, forgetting obligations, being late for classes, skipping school
- loss of interest in food or compulsive overeating that results in rapid weight loss or gain
- memory loss
- preoccupation with death and dying
- rebellious behavior
- sadness, anxiety, or a feeling of hopelessness
- staying awake at night and sleeping during the day
- sudden drop in grades
- use of alcohol or drugs and promiscuous sexual activity
- withdrawal from friends
Some things we as parents can do to help alleviate some of the pressures on our teenager are:
- When disciplining your teen, replace shame and punishment with positive reinforcement for good behavior. Shame and punishment can make an adolescent feel worthless and inadequate.
- Allow your teenager to make mistakes. Overprotecting or making decisions for teens can be perceived as a lack of faith in their abilities. This can make them feel less confident.
- Give your teen breathing room. Don’t expect teens to do exactly as you say all of the time.
- Do not force your teen down a path you wanted to follow. Avoid trying to relive your youth through your teen’s activities and experiences.
- If you suspect that your teen is depressed, take the time to listen to his or her concerns. Even if you don’t think the problem is of real concern, remember that it may feel very real to someone who is growing up.
- Keep the lines of communication open, even if your teen seems to want to withdraw.
- Try to avoid telling your teen what to do. Instead, listen closely and you may discover more about the issues causing the problems.
If you suspect your teenager has one or more of the major symptoms of depression you should follow up with a medical doctor.