Teenage depression isn't just bad moods and occasional melancholy. Depression is a serious problem that impacts every aspect of a teen's life. It can lead to problems in school, home and life in general. It can even lead to tragedy as recently have been noted in the news, teenagers who have committed suicide thought to be caused by cyber bullying. Cyber bullying is new and can spread instantly to hundreds of kids. It is like ripples in the pond and there is no real way to control it. If you are the victim of this kind of bullying you could begin to feel like the whole world is against you and find no place to turn.
If you think your teen is spending too much time on the internet or seems to be moody frequently you might look for some of these signs of depression:
Agitation & restlessness
Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
Irritability, anger, or hostility
Hopelessness or sadness
Loss of interest in activities
Fatigue or lack of energy
Withdrawal from friends and family
Changes in eating and sleeping habits
Thoughts of death or suicide
Teen years can be very challenging, but if teens have a good support system through friendships, success in school or sports activities and a good relationship with their parents, then they can develop a strong sense of self. Teen depression looks different than adult depression and because they are still discovering who they are, it can destroy their developing personality. If they are the victim of bullying whether it be on the internet or in person it can cause an overwhelming sense of sadness, despair, or anger and sometimes even suicide as has been in the press lately.
Experts say only 1 in 5 depressed teens receive help. Teenagers may be afraid to tell their parents that they are depressed or having problems at school but unfortunately they are dependent on their parents or teachers and cannot seek help on their own so most times they don't ask for it. They feel they might be letting their parents down or they wouldn't understand.
If you have an adolescent in your life, it's important to learn what teen depression looks like and what to do if you spot the warning signs.
- They may withdraw from friendships and activities or begin to hang with a different crowd.
- They could have irritable or angry moods, they might be grumpy or hostile or prone to angry outbursts.
- They could have unexplained aches and pains, headaches or stomachaches.
- They could have extreme sensitivity to criticism and they may feel worthless and rejected.
In an attempt to cope with their emotional pain, they may run away, self medicate with drugs and alcohol, become violent or have reckless behavior. Or they may go the other way and try to escape with excessive computer use and isolation. Depression can lead to grades dropping at school, poor attendance and low self-esteem. Sometimes they can even develop eating disorders or self-injury disorders.
If you suspect your teen is going through some difficult times, talk to them. Don't be afraid to express your concern. They need to know you care even if they don't respond right away. You could get help from a therapist that you trust and feel could help get your teen back on track. Make sure your teen is involved in sports or other activities that are healthy for them, maybe even volunteer work or mentor programs.