Signs of Depression in Teenagers
As many as one in 10 children between the ages of five to 16 has some form of mental disorder. Of these, around five per cent experience an emotional disorder such as depression. Because the teen years are often characterized by emotional upheavals it can be hard to spot the signs of depression in a young person.
It is not uncommon for teens suffering from depression to have a family history of depression. Despite the sometimes volatile nature of teen emotions, the experience of depression is quite similar to that experienced by adults. The difference between teen and adult depression seem to be most apparent in behavior.
Teens are going through what is probably the most unsettling period of their natural development. The stereotypical moody teen is found within the signs of depression so it is important not to brush aside the signs as simply a natural feature of growing up.
Low mood, unhappiness, tearfulness and irritability are common features of teen depression, particularly when not related to anything specific. Extreme reactions are also a sign. For example, if someone dies it is common for everyone to feel upset, but if the grief seems more extreme or lasts much longer it could indicate depression.
A sense of not being good enough, of failure, and of hopelessness, are common in depression. Teens may use poetry or art as a means of portraying their emotions. They may wear black and listen to music that relates to misery, death or other morbid themes. Part of the difficulty for adults is identifying this behavior within context as it is not uncommon for perfectly healthy teens to associate with groups who may wear black as a fashion statement and whose behavior and music provides a certain identity.
Persistent boredom, social isolation, social withdrawal and difficulties with relationships are common in depression. A common sign of depression in teens is the degree to which they become hostile and irritable with their family. It feels to the family like a sustained assault and complete rejection of anything they try to do to alleviate or understand the problem. This is often accompanied by complaints of physical illness, headaches, stomach cramps, nausea and so on.
Teen depression is important and should not be trivialized. There are a variety of treatment options open to teens that may alleviate symptoms. Early treatment of depression may help to stem or alleviate future depressive episodes. If you feel your teen is depressed, speak to your doctor about the support services available in your area.