We all know from our own experience and what we have observed that the teenage years can be turbulent, with sometimes moodiness and out bursts of irrational rage are not uncommon. This is all part of growing through the teen years when the body is undergoing radical changes. The child in them is slowly or sometimes even rapidly morphing into an adult.
They will be like bags of overactive hormones trying to find a place in the world.
However some teens will experience a good deal of transformational difficulty which may see them suffer deep bouts of depression. We need to be alert to the signs and symptoms of the onset of depression in our teenage kids as it can impact heavily on their grades at school, their relationships with their peers and their relationship with their parents and siblings.
As parents and educators we need to learn the facts about teenage depression and be aware of the key indicators.
Knowing and Understanding these key indicators may help you as a parent or teacher to thwart the onset of debilitating teenage depression and help that young person in your world to learn strategies which will help them overcome the illness before it overcomes them.
If you are concerned for a young adult and you want to be able to help them, it will be useful to read on to know the signs, understand the illness and gain an insight into ways you can help.
What is Teenage Depression Really?
Depression in anyone is a mental illness that manifests with an overwhelming sense of sadness, extreme and uncontrolled outbursts of anger and frustration. Some teens will become reclusive and lose interest in others and any activities which might require them to socialize with other people
These symptoms are not just a flash in the pan but are behavioral signs which persist over a longer period of time. It will impact severely on their inter-personal relationships and how they interact in the world around them.
Most teens suffering depression are reluctant to ask for help or even acknowledge that they have a problem and need a caring adult to encourage them to reach out for some help to get the appropriate treatment.
Key Indicators of Teenage Depression
- feelings of worthlessness
- withdrawing from friends and family
- extreme sadness or hopelessness that doesn’t seem to lift
- anger, irritability or intense frustration
- volatile and erratic emotions
- a lack of interest in activities that may have been significant sources of enjoyment
- changes in sleep patterns, staying up extremely late and not wanting to get up in the morning
- low energy levels and reduced motivation to do anything
- may engage in risk taking behaviors e.g sex, alcohol or drug abuse
- has trouble concentrating at school or on homework
- entertains thoughts of death or suicide or self harm .
How Does Teenage Depression Compare with Adult Depression?
Symptoms of depression are very similar between adults and teens however there are some stand out differences.
The outbursts of anger will be more evident in the teenager
They will be far more reactive and sensitive to any criticism leveled at them and may ark up easily when they feel criticized.
Teens are reluctant to talk to their parents about how they are feeling but may be more communicative with a trusted friend
Many teens will think they are suffering some physical illness and will use the excuse that they are not feeling well to avoid doing things or engaging in regular activities.
If any of the anti social behaviors continue for a prolonged period of time it is evidence of a depressive illness, this is true of both adults and teens. .
Why Do Some Teens Suffer Depression?
There are many factors that can influence depression in young people. Current research suggests these may include:
- a genetic pre disposition to the illness especially if other older family members have experienced depression
- Sexual or physical abuse as a younger child can result in depression and a feeling of low self worth as a teen.
- any traumatic event which has had a significant impact on the child can result in depression. Things such as a family breakup, the death of someone close to them, even moving to a new area and having to establish new friendships within community and or school
- Coming to terms with their own sexual identity
- living among a family where there is no harmony and constant bickering among the adults.
- lack of finances to enjoy a similar standard of living to peers.
- being bullied either verbally or physically
Where Can Teens Get Help?
I have outlined many options and resources in other posts but to list some again will not hurt.
Beyond Blue : https://www.beyondblue.org.au 1300 22 4636
Lifeline : https://www.lifeline.org.au 13 11 14
Headspace: https://headspace.org.au 03) 9027 0100
Kids Helpline kidshelpline.com.au 1800 55 1800
This list is for resources within Australia but there will be similar resources in most other countries.
Depression cannot be shaken off easily or simply dismissed. It is a serious illness which needs treating. The good news is that it can be treated but it is important to seek help early.
Head space has provided some excellent information and resources which you will find very helpful if you have experienced any of the following:
Eating Disorders, self harm, Bipolar, Post Traumatic Stress, Bullying, Anxiety, Extreme Anger or other issues signifying depression
Everyone is different in their ability to handle different situations. We need to accept that and not place unreal expectations on anyone to perform according to any formula for acceptable behavior.
It is a big step to first acknowledge you are having difficulty and an even bigger step to seek help. It takes courage to reach out to ask someone else to help you work through your concerns but it is essential that you do, both for your own well-being and for the assurance of those around you.
If you relate to any of the symptoms or signs of depression mentioned in this article I would encourage you to do just 3 things.
1 Acknowledge the difficulties you are experiencing
2 Tell someone that you feel depressed
3 Get some help.
If you have been able to overcome depression I would love you to share your story to help others going down the same rough road.
Lets look out for each other and remember RUOK?