Everyone feels sadness at some point in their life, and this emotion is a natural reaction to situations that are painful or upsetting. Depression, however, is an abnormal emotional state that can affect an individual’s thinking, emotions, behaviors and relationships. It’s important for parents and caregivers of teens to know the difference between sadness and depression. If you’re concerned that your teenager could be depressed, here are some signs to watch for.
Signs of Teen Depression
1. They are no longer interested in things they used to enjoy
Teens are typically drawn to social activities and place a high value on their friendships. Withdrawing from sports, clubs and activities with friends could be a sign of depression.
2. They feel like they have no energy or are very tired
Teens are still growing and require more sleep than adults. Teens need around 8 to 10 hours. Teens who don’t sleep at all or are very tired may be struggling with depression.
3. They have a constant feeling of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness
The difference between typical sadness and depression often involves the length of time those feelings last. Teens experiencing feelings of sadness and hopelessness lasting longer than two weeks might need to seek professional help.
4. They have drastically lost or gained weight
A change in eating habits, loss of appetite or sudden craving of food may be one of the signs of teen depression.
5. They have difficulty concentrating or making decisions
Adolescents are still learning their preferences and likes, but when they aren’t able to make choices, large or small, it could be a signal of depression. A lack of concentration could also indicate something bigger is happening and the teen might need professional support.
6. They feel shame or worthlessness
Many young people are critical of themselves, but teens who feel worthless, ashamed of themselves or believe they are a failure might be struggling with depression.
Lastly, there is great value in listening to the teen in your life. It is possible that they may self disclose signals or feelings of depression. If this happens, thank them for sharing their feelings with you and let them know you will work with them to get them the help they need.
The good news is that depression is a highly treatable disorder and the earlier treatment is started, the higher the chance is that treatment will be successful and the teen will be able to lead a healthy life.
If you know of a young person struggling or showing signs of depression, or experiencing thoughts of self-harm, contact Niles or one of our psychiatric hospitals at 1-866-KVC-CARES (582-2273), or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) immediately.