Unfortunately, depression in teens isn’t anything new.
The teenage years come with a unique set of challenges that kids eventually grow out of.
In addition to the hormonal and physical changes they’re going through, teens also have to deal with school stress, friend drama, and expectations from their parents.
For some teens, all of those things combined can get overwhelming and lead to depression.
It’s important to be aware of what depression in teens looks like so that you be there for your child if they need support.
Signs of Depression in Teens
How do you know if your teen is depressed? You have to keep your eyes open for the signs.
You want to keep the lines of communication open with your child, but sometimes a depressed teen doesn’t feel like talking to their parent.
In that case, you will need to be aware of what depression looks like, and work hard to support your teen in a way that they’re receptive to.
What are the signs? Here are some signs of depression in teens to look out for.
1. They stop liking things they normally love.
One of the most common tell-tale signs of depression in teens is a disinterest in activities that they usually love.
Depression can make a teen feel like nothing is important or matters.
Sports, choir, drama—it doesn’t matter how long they’ve been participating in the activity, a depressed teen just doesn’t get joy or pleasure from the activities anymore.
If you notice your teen cutting off friends or showing a lack of interest in extracurricular activities, it might be a sign that they’re struggling mentally.
2. Their grades start dropping.
Another sign of depression in teens is a drop in grades or their overall academic performance at school.
Depression can cause low energy and your teen might have trouble staying focused and thinking clearly.
Are your teen’s grades slipping? Check in with them, let them know if you’re concerned and assure them that you’re there for them.
3. They start engaging in risky behavior.
If your teen is participating in high-risk behaviors like smoking, sexting, or activities that could result in physical or mental harm, it could be that they’re suffering from depression.
It’s important to stay connected to your teen so that you can know what they’re going through. Even if they try to push you away, keep trying.
4. They have crazy sleep patterns.
Is your teen sleeping all of the time? Are they staying up all night?
If you notice a change in your teen’s sleep schedule, they might be depressed.
Depression can make teens feel physically tired, which leads to excessive amounts of sleep.
It can also cause bouts of insomnia, which can lead to not being able to sleep, staying up late, and waking up early.
Irregular sleeping patterns are a very good sign that your teen is having mental health struggles.
5. You notice your teen having mood swings.
Thanks to hormones, many teens experience mood swings.
If your teen’s mood swings seem to be happening a lot, or if they’re angry or more sullen than normal, that could be a sign that they need mental support.
Watch out for mood swings along with the other behaviors on this list to make sure you can support your teen if they need help.
6. There is a change in their eating habits.
A big change in eating habits can be a sign of depression in teens.
They might be eating a lot more than normal, or barely eating at all.
Depression can make you want to use food for comfort and as a coping mechanism.
It could also cause you to have a low appetite which leads to not eating enough.
Talk to your teen about making smart food choices, but be careful not to make them feel insecure about it.
7. Physically they seem different.
Sometimes when teens are depressed, they experience a lot more physical ailments than normal.
Unexplained headaches or body aches that can’t be diagnosed could be a sign of depression.
Don’t dismiss their complaints! These ailments are real and it’ll help your teen to know that they can depend on you to help them when they’re hurting and in need.
From the pandemic to the social unrest the country has gone through over the last few years, to the aforementioned pressures of being a teenager, our kids are struggling.
A study by JAMA Pediatrics found that kids experienced clinically elevated symptoms of depression due to the pandemic.
And we’re still in it!
Our teens need our support now more than ever. Let your teen know that you’re there for them, and don’t let up.