Depression doesn’t always look the same, especially in teens. In fact, it can be tough to tell whether a teenager is suffering from classic depression or is simply dealing with the changes of that stage of life.
If you have a teen in your life, you’ll want to know the signs of teenage depression. Remember that many of these potential indicators can manifest themselves subtly.
Your teen comes home with a 92% on a test. You’re thrilled, but they rant about being too stupid to get a perfect grade. This scenario happens all the time. Rather than enjoying successes, your teenager focuses on the negative.
Self-criticism isn’t unusual among teens. However, constant self-deprecation can go hand-in-hand with depression. Depression can make teenagers feel like they’re not good enough at anything.
Engagement in High-Risk Activities
Though we often equate depression and moping, some teens with depression go the other direction. They go to late-night parties with their friends and try drugs or alcohol. They sneak out at night and take the car for a joyride. While they may seem happy in their recklessness, they’re not.
For some teens, the “highs” of engaging in bad behavior help them temper the lows of everyday life. Parents should take particular notice if a teen who used to be responsible suddenly becomes different and unreliable.
Inability to Concentrate
A depressed mind can be an overactive one. Teens with depression may have difficulties focusing on anything for more than a few moments, such as a conversation or homework. They might also find decision-making almost impossible.
Many families chalk these behaviors up to “typical teen stuff,” but they can be early warning signs of teenage depression.
An Obsession With Death
Teens suffering from depression may begin to fantasize about death. They may become so preoccupied with death that they talk about their own death or the deaths of others. Occasionally, depressed teenagers might joke about death.
To many teens, death may seem like a way to end the pain of depression. Any talk about dying or suicide deserves immediate treatment. Parents of teens should take these “jokes” or musings about death seriously and call a family physician for advice.
Getting Help for a Teen With Depression
Moms and dads who suspect their teenager has depression can’t diagnose their child themselves. They should contact a professional therapist who can make an evaluation. Though a teen may resist therapy, talking with a counselor can be a wise first step toward a healthier, happier future.