Depression is a topic that can be hard to tackle. If you’re a teen who is depressed, you may feel shame, guilt, or like no one will hear you if you try to reach out for help. If you’re a parent of a depressed teen, you may feel helpless or frustrated; you may even be unaware. An interview of a teen who struggled with depression caught my attention this week. She provided some insight on how she had symptoms during 7th grade, she didn’t feel like she could talk to any adults in her life. As she searched for ways to manage her mood, she ultimately found a path towards improved communication with a parent and a voice to speak up about a topic often swept under the rug.

To read the interview click here.

Depression amongst adolescents is not uncommon, but may go undiagnosed and untreated. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 18% of high school students considered suicide and 3% had an attempt that required medical care. Suicide is the second leading cause of death (behind unintentional injury) for youth ages 10-34 in the US. Risk factors for depression include a family history of depression or other behavioral concerns (such as ADHD, anxiety, or being the victim of bullying). Warning signs may be subtle and go un-noticed at first. These include social isolation, changes in sleep and appetite, or irritability. For parents, it may be hard to distinguish signs of depression from expected adolescent behavior. But in general, trust your gut. If you’re concerned about your teen, seek help. If your teen makes comments like “would anyone even miss me if I wasn’t here?” take them seriously and don’t brush it off.

Here are some more warning signs of depression:

  1. Social isolation
  2. lack of interest in things they previously enjoyed
  3. sleep difficulties (either sleeping too much or not being able to fall asleep)
  4. easy irritability
  5. trouble concentrating or difficulty focusing on tasks
  6. poor appetite
  7. feeling sad, hopeless, depressed
  8. Talk of suicide (this can be direct or subtle)

Warning signs your teen may be at risk for suicide:

  1. previous attempt at suicide
  2. access to lethal means
  3. giving away valued/cherished possessions
  4. preoccupation with death
  5. leaving a suicide note

Teens may be at increased risk for suicide if a friend, peer, or schoolmate has recently ended their life by suicide.

Resources:

National Institute of Mental Health

National Suicide Prevention Hotline  1-800-273-8255