As parents we strive to keep our kids, safe, healthy and happy. We tire endlessly in this pursuit from the minute they’re born to when they leave the nest. From baby proofing, to being a personal chauffeur to their many activities; monitoring their online activity to trying to hide vegetables in their dinner- its a job that never does seem to end. Teen depression is a factor that can complicate our job even further.

Despite our best efforts to keep them safe, healthy and happy, it is increasingly difficult to protect our kids from mental health concerns like depression. According to the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), depression affects roughly 11% of adolescents by age 18.

If you are unsure as to whether your own child may be suffering from depression, here are 6 signs to look for:

1. Intense and Frequent Mood Swings

All teens struggle with raging hormones that do make mood swings just par for the course when raising a teen. However, teens with depression experience mood swings on another level. They display more frequent and intense mood swings in and out of anger, sadness and irritability.

2. A Uncharacteristic Drop in Academics

A drop in grades or sudden apathy for school in general can be a sign that your teen is struggling with depression. Cutting classes, lateness or missing assignments can be a signal that something isn’t quite right. Especially, when your child was one that had been previously a pretty good student. 

3. Changes in Social Behavior

Many teens isolate when they become depressed. They stop seeing friends, retreat to their rooms and stop talking so much about what’s going on in their day. Other kids who are depressed will have a change in social group, maybe with some peers that you may find questionable. To manage how they feel they may begin to engage in some self-destructive behavior. Changes in social behavior are another big sign that your teen may be struggling with depression.

4. A Loss of Interest in Their Favorite Activities

If your child has stopped engaging in some of the things you know they once really loved and enjoyed, it’s an indication that something is not right. Apathy and lack of interest are signs of depression. Yes some children do “grow out” of activities, be it sports, music or art. But if what they loved to do is not replaced by a new passion or hobby, it may be that they are really struggling to feel happy engaging in anything- even the things that used to bring them immense joy. 

5. A Lack of Motivation

I know teens are generally not known for being super motivated. However teens with depression you will see a significant decrease in their motivation level. This may show up in school, in their desire to go to extra curricular activities, see friends, or comply with chores around the home. 

6. A Family History of Depression

Depression can be genetic. So if you have a family history of depression, there is a chance that your teen will struggle with depression as well. 

If you have noticed any of these signs in your teen, it is important to seek help. You can start with your school guidance counselor or pediatrician to get their feedback on if they think depression may be the cause. 

Therapy can help teens to cope with their symptoms, learn their triggers and develop healthy ways of managing their emotions. If you are concerned for your teen’s safety or mental health, please contact us today. 

Stay Shining,

Jamie Vollmoeller, LCSW

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