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Is it Teen Depression or Anxiety?

Depression and anxiety are genuine mental health concerns for many teenagers. All teens will experience periods of depression and anxiety at some point. However, for some teens, their bouts of depression or chronic anxiety can be life-changing. Their mental illness can pose problems at home, at school, and in social settings.

As the parent of a teen struggling with mental health issues, you might not know how to identify the underlying problems. Teenage depression symptoms and teen anxiety symptoms can be similar in many ways, and they can overlap. Depression and anxiety can exist separately, but they also coexist in many teens.

Teen depression treatment and anxiety treatment are imperative for addressing the root problems. Get therapy if you notice the signs and symptoms of teens’ depression or anxiety. Most teens benefit from treatment either at home or at a therapeutic boarding school. In either case, teens battling depression and anxiety need to know that they are loved and valued while working through their issues.

Spotting the difference between depression and anxiety

The symptoms of depression and anxiety in teens can be similar to the signs in adults, but there are more nuances in the teen years. The causes and onset of teen depression and anxiety are uncertain and vary between people. No matter the reason, though, there are several key symptoms to look out for when spotting the difference between depression and anxiety.

Teenage depression symptoms:

  1. Being especially irritable

  2. Having trouble interacting with others and getting along with others

  3. Losing interest in the people, places, or activities that they used to enjoy

  4. Experiencing a change in sleeping habits (sleeping a lot more or battling insomnia)

  5. Experiencing a change in eating habits (eating more or loss of appetite)

  6. Having trouble concentrating

  7. Spending excessive amounts of time alone

  8. Avoiding social activities

  9. Using drugs, alcohol, or tobacco

  10. Expressing feelings of sadness or hopelessness

  11. Harming themselves

  12. Engaging in reckless or dangerous activities

  13. Expressing suicidal thoughts

  14. Attempting suicide

If your teenager says that they are suicidal, take it seriously. You can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline via phone at 1-800-273-8255. Some teens find it difficult to talk to people about their feelings over the phone, so there is also an online chat option if that is better for your teen.

Teen anxiety symptoms:

  1. Experiencing panic attacks

  2. Experiencing fear beyond what is rational for the situation

  3. Worrying about getting along in social situations

  4. Avoiding social situations

  5. Being extremely sensitive to criticism

  6. Avoiding new people, places, or activities

  7. Worrying about the future so much that it gets in the way of the present

  8. Having trouble sleeping (falling asleep or staying asleep)

  9. Using drugs or alcohol to calm down

Keep in mind that teenagers will naturally go through bouts of depression and anxiety as they mature. School is stressful, and social situations are stressful. As your teen navigates life, they will have some ups and downs.

If you notice the signs or symptoms of anxiety and depression for more than two weeks, take note. Regular teenage mood swings should come and go. Serious depression and anxiety tend to stick around and make life hard.

Helping your teen with depression or anxiety

There’s a lot to know as the parent of a depressed teen or anxious teen. If you are worried about your teen’s mental health, get outside help from a trained professional. You can start by talking to their doctor about your concerns. They should be able to give you advice based on the symptoms and offer possible treatment options. They might suggest therapeutic, medicinal, or a combination of the two.

No matter the treatment method, depressed and anxious teens need to know that you love them and care about them. There are several ways to show support and help your teen with anxiety and depression.

  1. Try not to put too much pressure on them. Teens with anxiety already worry excessively about the future and acceptance. If you put extra pressure on them to meet lofty goals, it can exacerbate teen anxiety symptoms.

  2. Encourage them to live a healthy lifestyle. When people sleep poorly, eat unhealthy food, and lock themselves away, they’re not going to feel well. Living a healthy lifestyle won’t “fix” their depression or anxiety, but it can help them feel as good as possible.

  3. Listen without judgment. Society puts pressure on teens to fit in with peers and be cool. Teens with mental health trouble know differently than their peers. Listen to them without judgment and help them learn that mental health is just as important as physical health.

  4. Use emotional language. Plenty of teens with depression or anxiety don’t know how to express what they’re feeling, so they end up feeling even more alone and stressed out. Help your teen learn the words to express their emotions.

  5. Set an example. Your teen needs to know that you love them and that you don’t think badly of them. Let your teen know that you also have challenging emotions and that life isn’t perfect for you either. Then demonstrate the kind of behavior that you want to see from them.

For more information about our school for teen boys with depression and anxiety, contact us at 866-224-2733.

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