Conor is a 17-year-old from Boston, MA and enjoys sports, history and music and he can’t wait to correspond with you.
Sometimes it can be hard to discern between a teenager’s expected fluctuating behavior and a teenager who is undergoing a serious and severe wave of depression. For a parent, the difference between these two behaviors may be even more difficult to recognize, as it is fairly common for many teenagers to hide personal and emotional experiences from their parents. In general, when a teen is suffering from depression, he or she will tend to bottle up all emotions due to a belief that it is impossible to communicate the specific emotions to a friend or family. At most, the victim of depression will reach out to one, maybe two friends who have recognized the symptoms of depression and have reached out to try to comfort the victim.
As an example, a close friend of mine, let’s call him person “A” for the purposes of the story, has recently been forced to deal with the oncoming divorce of his parents after both of his brothers have left home for college. “A” has always been someone who has had some fairly unconventional emotional streaks in the past and has always been somewhat quirky, regarding his normal interactions with friends. That is why, for the past couple months, when he displayed, what could be considered as unusual patterns of behavior, my friends and I didn’t think anything of it. However, this pattern of behavior reached a scary of climax about a month ago when “A” left during the middle of a gathering by himself, to walk home in the cold and snow, without telling anyone or answering his phone. While none of us knew what to do immediately, it became clear that our friend’s behavior was not typical and that he was certainly suffering from serious depression, and we made the important decision to reach out to him and let him know that it was important for him to know that he could confide in us whenever he wanted to get something off of his chest.
Though this story may not seem incredibly dangerous or serious, it is clear to my friends and I that we got lucky in realizing the symptoms of depression and talking to “A” before he completely isolated himself from others and may have harmed himself as a means of coping with his depression. And for anyone who knows or thinks that may know someone who is seriously depressed, the importance of recognizing and addressing the symptoms become increasingly important. So, here are a few common symptoms of teenage depression:
- Decline in grades/school performance: An early and important indicator of teen depression is if a teen stops doing homework and, as a result, begins to show much less care in his or her school performance.
- Loss of appetite: Usually, if a teenager stops eating on a regular basis, especially a teen who tends to be a very good eater, is eating less meals a day and/or eating less food at every meal.
- Loss of contact with friends: It is important to understand that this does not mean a change in who a teenager may spend time with. But if a teen who tends to be a fairly social person, starts to refuse to go out and instead prefers to shut themselves in their room for hours at a time.
- Increase use of recreational drugs and/or alcohol: This may be the easiest symptom to recognize, especially if the teen does not have a history of drug or alcohol abuse.
- Increase in violent behavior: Typically, when a teenager is depressed, the depression will take the form of anger and aggression and will tend to be aimed at parents, siblings and possibly even friends.
Lastly, the best way for a parent to make sure that your teenager does not suffer from depression would be to aim at the roots; in other words, to fight the causes of depression. Most of the time, teen depression results from a sense of loneliness and hopelessness, and thus it is important for a parent to constantly show affection toward a teenager, even when this affection may not be deserved. Tragically, it seems as if parents do not often realize this simple concept until it becomes too late and depression has already consumed their teenager.