Is your teen's mood typical or could it be more serious?
We often hear of (and many of us have dealt with) teenage moodiness! It is rare that a teen will make it through those formative years without having at least some angst, moodiness, and drama. How do you know when your teen’s mood swings are just part of being a ‘typical’ teenager and when it is something more?
Could your teen be suffering from depression?
Symptoms of Depression in Teenagers
1. Change in Moods
Most teens will have bouts of moodiness, but you should still see your ‘happy’ teen sometimes! But what if your teen seems sad a lot of the time or they burst out in tears at the drop of a hat? Some of this is typical teen drama, but if it goes on consistently for a period of time with no apparent reason, it is a cause for concern.
2. Change in Friends
It is common for teenagers to become less talkative and somewhat emotionally distant from their parents. What is important to note is how they are with their friends. Kids will make different friends through their school years and there could be changes over time in who they choose to hang out with. However, if there is a sudden total change to their circle of friends, you may want to have a closer look.
3. Loss of Interests
Take note of significant changes in your teens interests or activities. If your teen was passionate about dance class, football, hockey, or a club of some kind, then seems to totally lose interest without starting another activity (sometimes kids will drop one activity in favour of another, and that is normal), it may be cause for concern, particularly if it is accompanied by extreme fatigue.
4. Change in Sleep Pattern
The typical teenager will stay up as late as they can and sleep until late morning or into the afternoon! They can often get by with a lot less sleep than the average adult. However, you should be concerned if your teen is sleeping excessively or constantly complaining about not getting enough sleep or of being tired all the time.
5. Eating and Weight Changes
Teens often have big appetites. Conversely, they may be trying the newest diet craze (although these phases don’t usually last all that long). However, any signs of large weight loss or gain over a month or so should raise a big red flag for you.
If your A student is now getting Cs and Ds, that is a big deal and easy to spot. However, if your B student is now getting more Cs than Bs, it may be easy to overlook, but it could be a significant change and something to watch. Any difference in behaviour at home (consistently not doing chores that they used to do) could be an indication of a problem as well.
7. Alcohol and Drugs
Many teens will experiment with cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs at some point. However, it is important to note that for some teens, these things are used to mask their unhappiness and pain. If you think that your teen is drinking or doing drugs, take action.
8. Trust Your Instincts
If you feel that your child may be experiencing more than typical teen angst, trust that feeling! Talk to other parents, and most importantly, talk to your child.
What Can You Do To Help Your Teen?
Listen and Validate
This is sometimes hard to do! As parents, we may want to ‘fix’ things for our kids or tell them what they should be doing. However, if you want to find out what is bothering your teen, you will need to listen without lecturing or judging. Do not belittle what they feel. What may seem trivial to you may feel like a huge deal to your child. Acknowledge the hurt they are feeling.
Seek Professional Help
If you are concerned, arrange for an examination with your family doctor. Depression can happen to any child and there is help available to them. It is better to go and see your doctor and be told your teen is fine than not go and have there be a serious problem.
For more on this topic, check out Maternity Corner.