Despite the fact that depression in teens is well-publicized and well-recognized, it goes undiagnosed more often than many people realize. In fact, some statistics estimate that approximately 80% of depressed teenagers go undiagnosed and therefore untreated. Depression in teens is a serious issue that goes well beyond occasional bad moods or feelings of sadness, and it can have a serious negative impact on nearly every area of your teen’s life. It is important, therefore, to understand this issue as best you can. Below you will find the most important basic facts about teen depression:
The symptoms are easy to spot.
One of the only positive aspects of depression is that its signs and symptoms are largely unmistakable. If you notice that your teen seems quieter than usual or more withdrawn, then it is probably a good idea to pay closer attention to their other habits. It is important not to read too far into normal bad moods and “off days,” but if these become the norm in your home, then your teen could have a problem. The following are some of the most common symptoms of teen depression:
- Extreme shifts in eating habits (overeating or undereating)
- Lack of motivation or enthusiasm
- Changes in sleeping habits (insomnia or sleeping too often)
- Tearfulness or frequent crying
- Loss of interest in hobbies or friends
- Declining performance in school
These behaviors could be indicative of other teen problems, such as drug use, but, once you have ruled out other factors, it is usually safe to investigate the possibility of depression.
It could potentially ruin your teen’s life.
Depression, despite its frequent occurrence, is definitely nothing for parents to take lightly. Depression can have a negative impact on your son or daughter’s self esteem, social life, and performance in school, all of which can have far-reaching effects well beyond your child’s teenaged years. Additionally, depressed teens are also at risk of acting on their depression. In the worst of cases, the end result could be suicide, something which no parent should ever have to face.
It’s usually treatable.
Fortunately, depression is widely recognized, and this means that it is usually relatively easy to address in teens. Medications are always an option, and they are usually very effective, but for teens or parents who are wary of such measures, there are a number of alternatives. Therapy tends to help teens very much in that the therapist affords your son or daughter an opportunity to voice their concerns and express their feelings in a safe and understanding environment. Therapists can also advise your teen on how best to handle their depression issues and can recommend medications or treatments, as well as helping your teen to develop strategies to handle their depression independently. Beyond therapy and medication, for milder cases of depression, meditation, yoga, and aerobic exercise have all been scientifically proven to lessen depression’s strong grip and to reduce its negative side effects.