Signs of teenage depression may vary from those of adults. How do you know if your adolescent is depressed? As we all know, teens are not always the best at
discussing their feelings or what is going on with them.
One of the hallmarks of adolescence is growing into your emotions. We were all there right? As a teen it can be a bit struggle to sort out feelings and what they are related to. Many times an adolescent will just "have" feelings and have NO idea what they are correlated to or what they mean.
Basically, if you are the parent of a teen who is showing signs of depression is it up to you to talk to your teen and get them help.
Signs Of Teenage Depression
The video below is from a child psychologist discussing how to talk to your teen about this issue. It is less than 2 minutes long so if you are worried about your teen, and how to discuss this subject with them, please take the time to watch this.
Like adult depression this mood disorder has many symptoms. Teens may have the same physical symptoms of depression, which can include fatigue, abdominal pain, back pain, joint aches, appetite changes, and headaches such as migraine headaches.
Emotional and/or behavioral signs of depression in a teenager can include:
- isolation from friends and previously liked activities
- irritability and anger out of proportion to the situation
- sadness and crying
- worsening grades in school
- feelings of despair
- suicidal thoughts or talking about dying
If your teen shows signs of the above have them assessed by a professional. This is not something you can just talk them out of! Depression is a neurobiological change within the brain, and as time goes on (without treatment) it can become worse.
Many parents express the fear to me "I don't want my child on medications..". Sometimes this is due to the fact that very rarely anti-depressant medications can cause suicial thoughts in teens. Note that I said rarely. There is a much higher percentage of teens who benefit from medication. Quite frankly the risk of suicide in a teen is higher without medication that with medication.
Treatment Of Teenage Depression
If a teen is adult weight, they can take anti-depressants at adult dosing. Many anti-depressants can take weeks to have their full effect so encourage your teen to be patient.
One of the benefits of these medications is that some of them can also treat causes of anxiety attacks. Lexapro in particular, is nice as it treats both conditions and has a faster onset. It can help with symptoms in about 7-10 days. As mentioned above, very rarely (less than 1% of the time) anti-depressants in teens can worsen signs of teenage depression and bring on suicidal ideation. I do warn parents to look out for this as it will happen within the first few weeks of taking a medication. If so, call the doctor's office immediately, and if your child is imminantely suicidal, call the parametics.
Counseling is very important. A good psychotherapist can help your teen sort out their feelings. Do not take offence if your teen does not want to discuss everything with you. It is common that teens start to look outside the family at times for advice. Learning to trust and confide in a counselor is a good sign that they are making progress.
Rule of thumb: give counseling three visits at least. If your teen is not getting along with a counselor, that is OK. Try a different person as not everyone meshes perfectly, even in treatment systems.
If your teen is having severe problems with acting out, depression and other behaviour problems, it may be possible that time out of the home may help. This is a site I have reviewed and they seem to have many resources listed both inside and outside the US. Visit www.troubledteensguide.com for more information on this subject.
Remember signs of teenage depression can range from mild to severe, but whatever the cause, teens deserve treatment just like adults.