Middle and high school years can be the best of times and the worst of times.
Peer pressure, relationships, and test anxiety are just some of the things that can cause your teenager to change moods as often as they change clothes.
However, being moody might not be the problem. They might be experiencing something more serious. They could be depressed.
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 4-8% of teenagers suffer from depression. Meaning, for every 100 teenagers in America, 4 to 8 are in some state of depression. Even worse, if left untreated, depression can lead to substance abuse, alcoholism, or suicide.
Most depression goes undetected until it's too late to get it under control. However, the best thing you can do for your teenager is to heed the warning signs and seek treatment.
Here are 10 warning signs to pay attention to:
1. Decreased Social Interaction.
If they don't want to talk on the phone long or go out with their friends. Better yet, if they prefer to spend all their time in their room.
2. Highly Emotional.
Not moody, but emotional. Crying for little to no reason or yelling at the top of their lungs over something that is pointless.
3. Change in Eating Habits.
They prefer to eat in their room or not at all. Or, the exact opposite, they normally wouldn't eat anything during mealtimes and now they gobble down two plates of food.
4. Change in Appearance.
They don't want to get dressed or they dress in lounge wear all day. They hardly comb their hair and maintain minimal hygiene habits.
5. Avoids Eye Contact.
When they speak, they speak with their head held down and continue to roll their eyes to the back of their head. They only look at you when necessary.
6. Change in Language.
Profanity is their new choice of communication and will accept the consequences for their sassy mouth. They don't try to apologize for their choice of words and challenge you with offensive looks.
7. Uninterested in Favorite Activities.
They love music, but hardly listen to it anymore or they enjoy cooking, but won't go in the kitchen for any reason.
8. Lack of Focus.
In the past, they spoke of their goals and dreams often, but now you barely hear them speak about anything of interest.
They think that nobody needs or wants them and that everything is their fault.
10. Lack of Affection.
If you ask them for a hug, they shy away from you or if you give them a kiss on the forehead, they wipe it off.
Now, use these warning signs to test the mental health of your teenager. You may be surprised at the results.
If you believe your teenager is suffering from depression, call your local social support group that handles teens in crisis or ask your medical doctor for a recommendation to a good mental health practitioner for teens.
Remember, stay cool. Stay persistent. Stay in control.