Have you found that awkward moment when you knew something just seemed out of place with your teenager but didn’t know what to say or do? Have you found your teenager getting defensive with your questions of “What’s wrong?”, “Why are you so sad?”, “What’s the matter with you?” Have you found yourself frustrated with trying to understand your teen’s moodiness?
You are not alone among many parents of teens. A lot of times we have found that many parents of teens get frustrated, confused, and at times discouraged themselves in what to do to help their kid. The teenage years are one of the most difficult times of growing up in life and we want our son / daughter to succeed in life and to be or do their best.
Through the counseling process, we as counselors have found that many of our teen clients with encouragement from their families work through the difficult challenges they face gathering internal and external help, hope, courage, and strength to overcome the intensity of depression. Just being able to sort out mixed feelings, sad and confusing feelings, tragedies of life, losses, changes, and low self-esteem really helps them regain direction, confidence, and self-worth.
As for depression, here are six signs that we highly suggest not to ignore or to believe that they are “normal” for teenagers. Periodic changes or very short-term signs may be normal. You know your teen but may have found a change in your relationship and refreshing your observation and interaction with them can be rather helpful.
You notice a change in his/her attitude in general
This may or may not be directed toward you as a parent but it becomes noticeable when they “snap” at simple or daily requests; answers get shorter or sarcastic in nature; she/he seems angry, moody, or grumpy; he/she may just look sad or down without much explanation; and he/she may just “want to be left alone”.
His/her behavior changes in that they may stop doing fun activities
This may include not wanting to hang out with friends as much; they may turn down invitations to events they used to enjoy. You may find him/her more in their rooms, walking slower, isolating themselves from others, not turning in their assignments on time or at all, getting into arguments with siblings, friends, or adult figures. He/she may seem a bit more restless, irritable or lethargic.
He/she may be eating more or less than usual
You may find her/him snacking more than usual or skipping meals altogether, or eating less and less; or they may be eating foods that are crunchy or soft (in the context of the mood changes) which may reflect certain feelings they are experiencing. The types of food eaten may also affect your teen’s mood so be mindful of this.
He/she may be sleeping less or more
You may find it more difficult getting him/her out of bed for school or family events or they are sleepy with their eye lids barely open or they are sleeping in more and more, or they are restless in their sleep or maybe complain of “bad dreams” or nightmares. Sleep changes are also a factor in mood and may be related to depression.
Lack of motivation or procrastination
The typical enthusiasm just is not the same. They put off assignments until the day before they are due, or they have little or no planning to be with others or to do things he/she once enjoyed. You may find yourself more frustrated in getting them to do chores or other responsibilities around the house or with the family.
Talking about death or saying the world would be better without them
This is very important to listen out for and to act upon. He/she may talk as if there is no sense in planning for the future or they don’t see much of the future with him/her in it. Sometimes you may find them giving away their stuff or “prized” possessions or hoping the best for everyone (as if they are going on a long trip and not coming back).
NOTE: Some of these signs may indicate more than depression or something other than depression including but not limited to the following: various types of medical issues, use of or exposure to toxic substances, beginning or increased use or addiction to alcohol and/or other drugs or substances.
Your awareness of your teenager, his/her interactions with siblings or friends; activities they do; also extracurricular activities such as sports, music, clubs, etc. and if he/she works, their work schedule will help you in noticing these signs. Also, “hanging out” with him/her from time to time with informal “dating”, showing interest in what he/she is interested in and listening to them without criticism (aka – judgment), asking their feedback on certain family decisions, is critical in staying connected without “hovering” over them.
Things that may trigger these signs of depression are loss of a close friend (to death, moved away), loss of a friendship, break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, disappointment in performance, low self-esteem, not meeting expectations of you as a parent or of themselves, as well as other things.
If you are seeing these signs, ask if they may want to see someone who is objective, a good listener, and who may be able to help them through some rough times in their lives. Or possibly you yourself may want to come in and problem solve about parenting or how to approach your teen better. Let’s talk and see how we may be of help for your teenager and possibly you too.
Give us a call or send us an email. We are open to connecting with you.