Guide for Parents: Signs of Depression in a Teenager


Knowing the signs of depression in a teenager is vital for parents to nurture their adolescent’s mental health.
The teenage years is a period of transition, from being a kid to a full-blown adult. There are a lot of things that we do as kids that we would have to let go of. These sudden changes can be hard to cope with, partnered with new things we’ve never experienced before, and it can become a serious problem.

Signs of depression in a teenager
The changes teenagers go through during this phase of their lives isn’t easy to cope with. Unlike older age groups who know how to fully fend for themselves, teenagers still need their parents to help them adjust.
When teenagers feel that their parents, close relatives, or friends aren’t there to support and guide them, this is when they would feel alone and start to show signs of depression.

Unlike others, teenager’s most common behavioral, cognitive, socio-emotional, relational and physical symptoms are aggressiveness, anxiousness, and extreme irritability. There are other signs of depression in a teenager, which include:

Hostility, annoyance, anger, and the feeling of constant frustration
Unhappiness or hopelessness
Sudden crying spells even over simple things
Isolating oneself from friends and family
Frequent boredom and lack of interest even in personal hobbies and activities may be signs of depression in a teenager
Unhealthy changes in eating and sleeping habits
Low self-esteem and lack of confidence
The feeling of guilt or uselessness
Blaming oneself for past failures and mistakes
Difficulty in dealing with rejections and failures
Having a hard time concentrating, thinking, making decisions, as well as remembering things
Physical pains and aches may be signs of depression in a teenager
Fatigue and sluggishness or would rather sleep in than spend time with family and friends
Poor performance in school and other activities where a teenager previously excelled at
Nicotine, drugs, and alcohol abuse may be signs of depression in a teenager
Frequent disruptive behavior, such as always getting into altercations and scuffles, sudden outbursts of anger
Thoughts of death or a suicide attempt may be signs of depression in a teenagers

Outcomes of depression in teenagers
There are different ways teenagers cope with the feeling of depression. It might seem that they’re always acting out, but this behavior is just their way of letting out their negative emotions and pain.

Here’s how teenagers often cope with depression.

Substance and alcohol abuse
People usually resort to alcohol and other substances to help them cope with depression. Although these substances indeed have effects that provide temporary respite from depression, it can actually make things worse. Alcohol can impede one’s judgement and decision-making. It may also exacerbate depressive symptoms.

Alcohol and drug abuse can make patients more susceptible to other mental illnesses as well as severe health problems.

Impulsive decisions and carelessness
Teens experiencing depression may sometimes think they are misunderstood not only by their parents but by other people too.

Because of this, they usually pursue forbidden activities. These activities include activities such as staying out late and drinking with friends, drunk driving, and unsafe sex.

There is also a biological basis for this impulsivity, as the brain of a teenager is still developing parts related to executive functioning skills. These include impulse control, planning, and decision-making.

Aggression and violence
Some teens act out with aggression due to a combination of their disposition towards aggression, and various stresses that may bring out this aggression. In some cases, this may be due to them suffering mistreatment or abuse at home.

They resort to violence to project their anger as well as for other people to feel what they’re going through.

Running away
For teens who can’t handle the burden of depression, they usually think the best decision to make is to drop everything and go. This may also be a way for them to escape their stressors.

However, most teens who talk about running away usually don’t go through with it.Instead, these threats of running away should be met as a cry for help.

Poor school performance
One of the most common signs of depression in a teenager is poor school performance. This is more noticeable for teens who previously excelled in academics and athletics.

Depression causes teens to abandon their interests and hobbies as well as their drive for learning.

Usually partnered with depression is anxiety. This is most common for teenagers because of their insecure nature.

Symptoms of anxiety include feeling nervous, fearful, or guilty; being worried; fears regarding school or specific situations or people; fears of doing something bad or making a mistake; and being self-conscious.

Low self-esteem and lack of confidence
Among the signs of depression in a teenager is low self-esteem.

Teens usually compare themselves to other teens making them look at themselves negatively. Those with low self-esteem and lack of confidence often view themselves as unappealing and unworthy of attention and love.

Smartphone dependency and overuse of the internet
In this day and age, smartphones play an important role in social interactions. Depressed teens try resorting to going online in order to seek refuge and acceptance from their online friends in times of loneliness.

However, this kind of online activity can isolate them even more from their real-life family and friends. Smartphone overuse may also be a form of addiction.

Researchers have also found that there is a link between smartphone dependency and the increasing risk of depression and loneliness in adolescents, but further research is still needed to support this claim.



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