It can be difficult for parents to acknowledge that their teen may be depressed. Here in Fairfield County parents work hard to provide their children with a quality education, extra-curricular activities, and material possessions. It can be hard to accept that their kids may be struggling emotionally, despite the benefits afford them.
Parents may look longingly at what they perceive to be the carefree lives of their children. What they may overlook are the host of social, academic, and family pressures that their children are bombarded with daily. Teens face the added challenges of puberty, questions about their identity and where they fit in, and the tensions that arise as they embark on the transition from childhood to adulthood.
Depression is one of the most common disorders facing teens. Signs and symptoms can include sadness or hopelessness, irritability or anger, unexplained physical ailments, frequent crying, withdrawal from friends and family, and loss of interest in activities. Depressed teens can also have changes in sleep and eating habits, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, or thoughts of suicide.
Fortunately, depression is treatable. Experts report, however, that only about one in five of those suffering receive treatment. Left untreated, depressed teens are at a higher risk of social and academic problems, low self-esteem, eating disorders, substance abusive, self -destructive behaviors, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Don’t hesitate to speak with your teen if you are concerned, especially if signs of depression have lasted more than two weeks. Your teen may actually be relieved that you have noticed mood and/or behavioral changes. Encourage your teen to talk with you about what may be troubling him or her. But don’t be surprised If your teen denies that there is anything wrong, or just can’t find the words to describe what he/she is feeling. Teenagers are sometimes not totally aware of what is bothering them, or they might not want to share their concerns with a parent.
If you suspect that your child is depressed, trust your instincts and seek professional help. You can start with a pediatrician who can make an initial assessment and rule out any medical issues. Once medical issues are eliminated, find a mental health counselor. Whether you teen is struggling with depression or going through a particularly rough patch, the sooner any problems are addressed the better.