With all the changes that happen during a teenager’s life, it can be difficult to spot the difference between depression & the bad moods we associate with that age group. Just think of all the jokes about dramatic & grumpy teenagers!
As they move towards adulthood they may show signs of anger, irritability & even aggression that can appear out of character, so is it just being a teenager or is it a depressed teenager?
There are many reasons a young person can feel down. To an adult this may seem ridiculous as they haven’t experienced enough of life to be unhappy. But when you take into account that young people are very sensitive to everything perhaps due to hormones or stress of exams or even the relationship between their parents, you can start to imagine what their life is like. It’s like having a few adult years condensed into a short period of time. Things around them also change rapidly.
If you try to remember back to your own teenage years you probably firstly recall the fun times, the carefree attitude to life or the enjoyment of having no responsibilities. But remember this is a condensed variation of adult life. This is friendships & love that change rapidly. Body changes. Exams, revising & having to answer to parents about the results. Boundaries that are suddenly seen as being put in place by the enemy & not for their own safety. Rejection from friends & the opposite sex as they change in appearance & personality. Having strong opinions & the feeling that no-one understands them.
Many articles I have read suggest that teens exhibit depression very differently to adults but in my experience with teenage clients, there are many of the same core behaviours.
Good indicators are the following.
• Trouble concentrating
• Crying far more than usual
• Withdrawal from family and/or friends – this could be just one person in particular
• Changes in sleep
• Loss of motivation
• Thoughts/comments of death or suicide
• Anger, irritability, frustrated or aggression
• Feeling sad
• Lack of self-worth
• Changes in appetite
• High sensitivity to criticism
• Feelings of failure and/or rejection
• Strange aches and pains
• Changes in the types of friends they chose to spend time with
More serious signs are self-harming, eating disorders or trying illegal substances, these can be attempts at raining in control of their lives or trying to block out the pain.
If you have any concerns over an extended period of time, you should make a GP appointment or get int touch with a counsellor.