I get a lot of calls from parents asking me if they should be worried about their teen’s mood swings and general rebelliousness, and they want to know if this is a sign of teen depression.
Many teens experience a wide range of emotions as they navigate puberty and adolescence. Emotions can change from day to day or even hour to hour and parents may feel like they are completely unsure if their kids are okay or really struggling.
Moodiness during this time is very common however it can be really difficult to pin down just what is causing low mood.
Your child might have periods of feeling quite low and there are a host of reasons for this – from lifestyle and relationship issues to not getting enough sleep and poor nutrition. There can also be friendship issues, bullying or maybe they are just having a bad day.
It’s helpful to view this low mood within a wider a context however, do they function well at school but not at home, or vice versa – maybe they are having difficulties with friends.
If your child has experienced the following for more than two weeks without a lift in mood then depression may be the cause.
Signs of Teen Depression
- Moods like irritability, anger and sadness
- Feelings of loneliness, apathy and insecurity
- Tearfulness or frequent crying
- Feeling worried or tense
- Sleeping more or less than usual
- Has withdrawn from friends
- Feelings of despair and suicidal thoughts
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Being self-critical and self-blaming
Learn about depression – there are great online resources that will help you to understand what your teen is going through so that you can provide them with the sort of support they will need
Parenting a depressed teen can be difficult at times and you may feel exhausted, rejected, despairing and even aggravated. Make sure that you are taking good care of yourself and seek support if you need it.
Low mood can be managed naturally with things like physical activity, encouraging them to get out and do something, walking the family dog, going on a family bush walk or bike ride are really beneficial.
When low mood hits teens can become quite isolated so encourage them to catch up with friends or attend activities where other young people will be.
If you feel they may be depressed
Try to offer support to you child, let them know that you are there for them and try not to ask too many questions as they are likely to shut down. Just let them know that you have noticed and that you are there to help in any way you can.
If the low mood continues be persistent – let them know that you have noticed and that it is worrying you. You can give them some basic information about depression, and get them to check out these websites.
When they are willing to talk to you about it try not to offer too many solutions and let then just get some things off their chest – criticising their way of handling things is a sure fire way of getting them to shut down. When they do open up try not to talk ‘down’ their symptoms or feelings. Try to acknowledge that for them it may feel very distressing and serious.
And of course if you have significant concerns please get them to their doctor. They will be referred to a professional who will be able to assist them. Remain involved in any treatment that is suggested. Make sure your teenager is following all treatment instructions and going to therapy.
Remember there are many natural things that can be done to manage depression so please check those out. Medication is not the only solution for depression.
Track changes in your teen’s condition, and call the doctor if depression symptoms seem to be getting worse.
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Until next time ..