If you’re the parent of a teenager, you’ve probably come to expect some degree of moodiness from your adolescent. It’s completely normal for teens to retreat a bit and guard their privacy as they try on different personas in their journey to adulthood. But sometimes an adolescent’s sullenness and social withdrawal are a sign of something more serious — like depression.
The incidence of teenage depression is growing; about 12.5 percent of teens between the ages 12 and 17 will experience at least one depressive episode in a year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Teenage girls are almost four times as likely as boys to suffer from depression. If left untreated, teen depression increases the risk for suicide, substance abuse, and other risky behaviors such as eating disorders, self-injury, running away, and violent behavior.
Are you concerned that your child’s moodiness has morphed into something more serious? Here are some signs and symptoms of depression to look for:
- Loss of interest in friends or activities your teen used to enjoy
- A sudden drop in grades
- Changes in sleeping habits: sleeping more than usual or having trouble falling or staying asleep
- Excessive weight loss (when your teen is not dieting) or weight gain
- Lack of energy; moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Irritability and anger
- Difficult concentrating or making decisions
- Complaints of headaches or stomachaches (more common in younger teens)
- Excessive reliance on social media, which can also cause depression in adolescents