Adolescence is a time of self-discovery. This is when teenagers experience emotional, behavioral, and physical changes. While these changes indicate a transition into maturity or adulthood, they may suggest that the child needs medical attention.
Teenagehood is a delicate period marked by experimentation, which can result in several unhealthy behaviors. For example, depression and several other mental health conditions are at the riskiest in this stage because teenagers are exposed to substance abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse mentions that 31.3% of 10th-grade teenagers misused alcohol in the past year. On the other hand, 19.5% abused cannabis.
Teenagers aren’t immune to mental health challenges. That’s why parents and guardians must be attentive to identifying the symptoms of depression.
Teen Depression Explained
Teen depression is a mental health problem affecting many adolescents. Typically, teenagers are moody at times. When you add the hormonal changes they experience, it’s easy to see why they have mood swings. However, several findings have indicated that it’s not all about the changes that come with teenagehood. One in eight adolescents has teen depression, which means your unhappy adolescent may actually be depressed.
So, occasional emotional ups and downs may indicate your teenage child has a mental health condition, such as depression. Depression is epitomized by consistent sadness and loss of interest in pleasurable activities. Once you notice your child’s daily functioning is disrupted or prefers to stay isolated for an extended period, it’s time to seek professional help. Depression may have set in.
Symptoms of Teen Depression
Depression is an internalizing condition, i.e., it disrupts the person’s emotional being rather than the physical aspect. As such, it’s not straightforward for parents or family members to notice it. Not even the teenagers themselves can deduce that they are depressed immediately.
Teenagers suffer from two forms of depression – major depressive disorder or MDD and dysthymia. MDD is the most common one with severe symptoms. These symptoms may last several months up to a year. Dysthymia symptoms last longer, usually stretching years. However, the symptoms are less debilitating. It doesn’t mean dysthymia is less dangerous. Over time, there’s more accrued damage if the teenager doesn’t get treatment immediately.
The following are common signs of teen depression:
- Consistent and prolonged sadness/ low mood
- Increased irritability and moodiness
- Withdrawal from the public and friends
- Disruptive sleep patterns
- Loss of interest in hobbies previously enjoyed
- Chronic fatigue
- Changes in appetite
- Concentration issues
- Body pains, such as headaches and joint pains
- Suicidal thoughts
- Irresponsive and rebellious behaviors
- Compulsive overheating
- Drop in school performance
- Indulgence in risky/criminal activities like sexual promiscuity and DUI
- Increased use of substances
Note that a depressed teenager could also suffer anxiety. Therefore, they will need to be treated separately. Here is the thing – Depressed teenagers have a negative mind that usually leads them to uncertainty. They may become anxious about what will happen next if they aren’t secure or confident. They may do two things next – think about taking their lives or source alcohol/drugs to cope with the situation.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among teenagers and young adults. Teenagers who hide their mental health condition are at a higher risk of suicide. That’s why parents and family members must be alert to the symptoms of depression, even when their rebellious ones aren’t forthcoming about how they feel.
Why Teenagers Develop Depression
Teenagers become depressed for various reasons. They may feel worthless and inadequate over their school performance, social status with friends, or sexual life. Sometimes, the environment and family can be a contributory factor. Teens born into a family known for their depression will likely have it.
Trauma or loss of a loved one, stress, and a lack of supportive parents are other contributory factors. These potential triggers and risk factors may lead to extended sadness and isolation.
Treating Teen Depression
Fortunately, teen depression can be treated. There are many resources available for teenagers with depression, such as therapy and support groups.
Sometimes, talking teenagers into getting help may not be easy. They may be rebellious and act like everything is fine. If you suspect they have depression, have a non-judgmental communication with them. Let them know you’ll help them and that seeking medical help will significantly improve their well-being.
As a parent or family member, you must be vigilant and monitor your teen’s behavioral and mental well-being. Call for help if you suspect your child is unhealthy.
BNI Treatment Treats Teen Depression
Recognizing the symptoms of depression in teens is crucial for their physical and mental state. With support and the right resources, teenagers can navigate depression and live healthily. BNI Treatment Centers help teenagers and adolescents with depression recover and live more fulfilling lives. Our experienced team of therapists. Psychiatrists and psychologists utilize holistic and evidence-based treatment to ensure teenagers overcome mental health disorders.
From medical detox, teen residential inpatient, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient, our teen mental health programs are well-equipped to help teens experience long-lasting healing.