Recognising and Dealing with Teenage Depression.
At Teenage Mental Health we know it can be really difficult for parents to recognise whether their teenager is simply “being a teen” or if there is something a lot more severe going on behind the scenes. This blog aims to take you through the tell-tale signs of a possible problem, which could be attributed to standard teenage behaviour, yet if you’re worried about your teen it’s always good to know what to look out for in case there is a problem that could be lurking.
Being open with your teenager and voicing any concerns you have about their behaviour gives them the opportunity to talk to you about their mental health. We understand that everyone is different and they may not feel to talk to you about their mental health and choose to hide it, hoping that it’ll eventually pass. Here’s what you should look out for if your teenager decides to not be so vocal about their mental health.
· Irritability and intolerance of others.
· Showing little to no enjoyment over things that were once interesting to them.
· Increasingly isolating themselves from social occasions and interactions.
· Changes in sleeping patterns such as problems going to sleep and/or waking up throughout the night.
· Showing and possibly voicing feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
· Continuous low mood and/or sadness alongside frequent tearfulness.
· Inability to concentrate
· Low confidence and/or self-esteem
· Eating less or more than usual with big changes in weight
· Inability to relax or more lethargic than usual
· Feelings of emptiness or unable to feel emotions (numbness)
· Self-harm such as cutting or burning their skin
Depression can be triggering by a variety of causes which could include parents separating, problems at school or college, bullying, or a bereavement. The risk of depression can be increased by a family history of depression or similar mental issues or experiencing difficult life events like physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Your teenager could be trying to cope with their depression through self-harming or taking drugs.
If you suspect your teenager is self-harming you need to look out for unexplained cuts, bruises, or cigarette burns on their wrists, arms, thighs, or chest. Other tell-tale signs of self-harm include keeping themselves covered at all times, even in hot weather as well as signs they’ve been pulling out their hair. If you suspect your teenager is taking drugs to cope with their mental health you need to look out for a loss of interest in hobbies, sports, or other favoured activities as well as dramatic changes in behaviour, excessive tiredness and a lack of appetite, dilated pupils with red eyes and bad skin, and stealing money.
If you are worried about your teenager you need to voice your concerns to get them to express their feelings openly and honestly. If your teenager refuses to talk to you it is a good idea to open up other channels of communication, whether this is with another trusted family member or friend. You should avoid persistent direct questioning because this could make them feel embarrassed about their feelings or threatened.
Be honest with them and explain you are worried about them and are concerned they’re going through a difficult time. Direct them towards websites and helplines that will give them support as well as information on depression, drugs, and self-harm so they can educate themselves and find out the facts themselves. Let them know that you are there for them if they should choose to open up to you and allow them to choose where to go for help which could be a GP, family member, or school/college counsellor. Do not blame yourself for their issues, this will not help the situation and will only cause you to feel helpless and upset.