Teenagers can be moody, difficult entities but it is hard to tell if that perceived state is the norm or due to depression
The influence of hormones and the natural process of growing in to an adult can cause a great deal of stress. Things such as not doing well at school, arguments with parents and romantic breakups, can lead to feelings of low self-worth and not being in control.
There may be a lot going on in the teenager’s life; there may be bullying at school or the of experience losing a parent to death or divorce.
The average teenager can normally tolerate and overcome these types of events with time and patience but for others they can contribute to a state of depression.
So, you may suspect a teenager is depressed but how to confirm your suspicions?
Depression can alter the way they act; they see everything in a negative way. Problems seem insurmountable. Try to be alert for changes in behaviour.
Some of the changes in behaviour may be very obvious such as:
• Appetite changes
• Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
• Starting to forget things
• Staying in bed and being very tired for no reason
• Becoming upset, restless, and irritable
• Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once fun
• Failing at school/college
• Talking about death/suicide
However, it is not always so easy to spot. There may be problems at home. Often the teenager may behave badly or out of character but not seem to be depressed. They may act irresponsibly or start shop lifting. They may want to be alone and not want to spend time with their family. All important signals to be aware of.
Although depression in teenagers can be difficult to diagnose, symptoms should not be ignored as suicide is a risk for all teenagers with depression.
Once the teenager has been diagnosed with depression, action should be taken swiftly before other complications manifest themselves, such as:
• Drug, alcohol, and tobacco abuse
• Effects on relationships with family and friends
• Other mental health problems, such as anxiety disorders
• Teenage suicide
• Violence and reckless behaviour
Almost all teenagers with depression benefit from some type of talking therapy. A talking therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a good place to talk about their feelings and concerns, and to learn ways to deal with them.
You may find our Master Class on Depression taking place in March 2013 of interest