Normal teenager behavior is a mystery in itself but when depression is part of it you need to be able to react. This article will help you see the signs early.
Children now grow much bigger earlier in life, which means that adult-like bodies and physical capacities occur much sooner than before. This increased interest in and capacity for sexuality at a much younger age unfortunately has not been accompanied by acceleration in emotional or social development.
The traditional roles and expectations for children and adults are different now however still undefined, resulting in confusion for both adolescents and their parents. The frustrated attempts at achieving autonomy earlier in life often leads to hopelessness and despair. Both of those emotions are perfect breeding ground for depression.
Here are the symptoms that you might observe:
1. Changes in appetite or weight
Eating patterns of adolescents are difficult to assess given the occurrence of eating disorders and obsessive dieting. Observe where your teenager is skipping meals or shows significant changes in body weight over a short period of time.
2. Feelings of sadness
Just like adults, most teenagers feel sad some of the time. The difference here is that the feeling lasts most of the day and is experienced nearly every day. They might show tearfulness without apparent reasons or being constantly irritable.
3. Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
Many teenagers suffer low self-esteem, however this is more extreme. You might observe a total lack of motivation in things previously enjoyed and thought patterns of meaninglessness.
4. Changes in sleeping pattern, fatigue, loss of energy
They might stay up all night not being able to go to sleep and / or sleep during the day so they don't have to face the world. Sitting around at home and refusing to go out are some other signs.
5. Boredom, hating school
Changes in school performance, refusing to go to school, failing exams and general lack of enjoyment can be observed. Generally they lose interest in activities they once enjoyed.
6. Thoughts of suicide, death or self-harm
Either teenagers listen to depressive music, talk openly about death or idolize cult figures who have taken their lives. If your teenager is practicing or at risk of self-harm, actions need to be taken immediately.
7. Inability to concentrate, make decisions or remember things
In addition to the effects of changes in sleeping patterns and changes in school performance you might notice their concentration span decreasing.
8. Loss of interest in the opposite sex, loss of interest in meeting with friends
Decreasing social interaction is another quite obvious change in an adolescent's life style.
In addition to everything mentioned above depression in teenagers often comes with abuse of substances like drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
If you notice more than 3 of the signs mentioned above you might want to get your teenager assessed by your general practitioner, psychologist or psychiatrist.
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