Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford
Teenagers & Depression
Teenagers just like adults can face a lot of demands and pressures. Often teenage pressures stem from changes in physical appearance, performing well academically, fitting in with one’s peers, and puberty. Identifying depressive symptoms in teenagers can often be very difficult to determine as there are a host or emotional and psychological and emotional changes that occurs in adolescence during and leading up to adulthood. As a result of psychological changes, teens can often present as being moody, combative, isolating, and even strangers to their parents. Teen depression like adult depression can be chronic and debilitating, impacting and influencing every aspect of a teens life. By knowing and properly identifying the symptoms of depression in teens, parents and other adults can locate and secure treatment for teens suffering from depression earlier rather than later, thereby preventing an exacerbation of symptoms.
Unlike adults that may recognize what they are feeling is outside of their norm and possibly indicative of depression, teens typically do not have this insight. Teens unlike adults are dependent on parents and other responsible adults for identifying, pursuing, and securing the treatment that they need. As a reminder depending upon your teens personality at baseline, depressive symptoms can look very different and unique as it is subjective to the person experiencing it. However, with that being said just like every snowflake is different, so is every teen. It is a parent and caregiver’s responsibility to recognize and take action when their teens mood deviates from what is “normal” for that teen.
Potential Warning Signs of Depression
Chronic sadness or crying
Self-isolating behaviors from family & friends
Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
Irritable, hostile, or combative mood
Interruptions in sleep and eating patterns
Decline in academic functioning
Loss of interest in activities once pleasurable
Challenges with cognition and memory
Makes jokes about ending one’s life or everyone would be better off without him/her
Suicidal thoughts or ideations
Parents are encouraged to err on the side of caution if there are suspicions a teen may be suffering from more than sadness. Early treatment can prevent an escalation of symptoms as well as better treatment responses and outcomes.
Jenna is a 16-year-old teen in her junior year of high school. Things had been going well for Jenna both socially and academically, however one month ago her boyfriend of 1 year broke up with her and he began dating her best friend. Jenna began to isolate herself from her other friends and parents. In the last month Jenna has lost nearly 10lbs, she is constantly crying, and her grades have taken a decline. Jenna’s parents think this is a normal grieving process for the loss of her relationship and betrayal of a best friend. Recently, Jenna has begun to joke about how the world would be a better place if she were no longer around. Has her sadness escalated beyond sadness and possibility into more dangerous territory like depression?