The teen years can be difficult. Between home life, schoolwork, and social situations, life can get pretty stressful. On top of all that, hormones start to play a major role in teenage mood swings during puberty. Kids start to fluctuate between the ups and downs of hormone-driven moods, and it can be tough to tell how they’re really doing.
Your teen might want more time to themself than they used to, and they might be more withdrawn. During the teenage years, it’s common for kids to start pulling away from their parents and trying to exert more independence. As a parent, it’s important for you to know the difference between regular teenage mood swings and more serious mood disorders.
What is teen depression?
Teen depression is more common than many parents realize. Depression is a diagnosable mood disorder that can have a serious impact on your teen’s life if left unaddressed. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it can be somewhat difficult to pinpoint the differences between teen depression and a regular “bad mood.” Your son is guaranteed to have some bad moods throughout his teen years, but he might not have depression.
Common signs and symptoms of depression in teenagers:
No longer doing activities that they used to enjoy
No longer hanging out with people who used to make them happy
Spending lots of time alone when they used to be social
Spending too much time on their phone or online (can’t handle being without their devices)
Sudden drop in following through with responsibilities
Changes in eating habits (binge eating or not eating)
Changes in sleeping habits (trouble sleeping or sleeping too much)
Speaking badly of themselves
Saying that they are sad a lot
Saying that nothing matters or that everything is pointless
Talking about suicide
Crying easily or shutting down easily
Abusing drugs or alcohol
Participating in dangerous behavior that could cause them harm
How to help your depressed teen
If you notice signs that your teen might be depressed, take it seriously. Some teens who battle depression also think about suicide. If you are worried that your teen might consider suicide, seek professional help. Too many teens battle suicidal thoughts on their own and, sometimes, succumb to them.
Talk to them
Talk to your teen and express your concern. Let them know that you are concerned and that you love them. Ask them to tell you how they’re feeling and why they feel that way.
Listen to them
Listen to what your teen has to say. Give them the space to express their feelings. Lots of teens are hesitant to talk to their parents about their feelings for fear of being judged. It’s very important that you listen to them without passing judgment on them, even if you think they are wrong.
Encourage positive coping strategies
Your teen might not understand why they feel the way they do or what they can do about it. When your teen feels depressed, they might withdraw from all the things that make them feel better. Encourage your teen to participate in activities that typically make them happy.
Support their friendships
If your teen is interested in joining groups with positive peers, support them. Teens with depression can benefit from having good friends. They need to be able to talk to other people and relate to other kids, even when they have bad days. By joining positive groups like sports teams or clubs, your teen will broaden their social network and build a bigger support system.
Get outside help
Teen depression is a severe mental illness. If your teenager is battling depression, they might need more help than you can give them. Talk to their doctor about what’s going on and get recommendations for your son’s best treatment options.
As the parent of a depressed teen, it’s worth considering a boarding school for troubled boys. While in school, the boys continue receiving high school credit, but they also receive a personalized treatment plan to address their depression. Call us at 866-639-2856 for more information.