Depression in adolescents is a serious mental health problem that causes lingering feelings of sadness and loss of interest in activities. It affects the way your teenager thinks, feels, and behaves, and can cause emotional, functional, and physical issues.
Although depression can occur at any time in life, symptoms can be different between adolescents and adults. Issues like peer pressure, college expectations, and body change can lead to a lot of ups and downs for teens. But for some teens, dips are more than just temporary feelings – they’re a symptom of depression. Depression in adolescents is not weakness or something that can be overcome with willpower – it can have serious consequences and requires long-term treatment.
For most adolescents, the symptoms of depression improve with treatments such as medication and psychological counseling.
Signs and symptoms of depression in adolescents include a change from the adolescent’s previous attitude and behavior that can cause distress and significant problems at school or at home, in social activities, or in other areas of life.
Symptoms of depression can vary in severity, but changes in your teen’s emotions and behavior may include the examples below.
- Pay attention to emotional changes, such as:
- Feelings of sadness which may include crying for no apparent reason
- Frustration or feelings of anger, even over small things
- Feel hopeless or empty
- Irritable or annoyed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities
- Loss of interest or conflict with family and friends
- Low self esteem
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Fixation on failures in past or exaggerated self-blame or self-criticism
- Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure and need for excessive reassurance
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Constant feeling that life and the future are dark and gloomy Frequent thoughts of death, death, or suicide
Watch for changes in behavior, such as: Fatigue and loss of energy Insomnia or too much sleep.
Changes in appetite
decreased appetite and weight loss, or increased cravings for food and weight gain Alcohol or drug use Restlessness or restlessness – for example, pacing, wringing your hand, or an inability to sit still Slowing of thought, speech, or body movements Frequent complaints of unexplained aches and headaches, which may include frequent visits to the school nurse Social isolation Poor academic performance or frequent absences from school .
Less attention to personal hygiene
Less attention to personal hygiene or appearance Outbursts of anger, disruptive or risky behavior, or other acting out behavior Self-harm – for example, cutting, burning or piercing or tattooing excessively Make a suicide plan or attempt to commit suicide.
Adopt healthy habits
- Adopt healthy habits Opting for a healthy lifestyle can do wonders for your mood.
- Things like eating right, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep have been shown to make a big difference in depression.
- Move! Have you ever heard of runner’s high? You actually get a rush of endorphins when you exercise, which instantly makes you happier.
- Physical activity can be just as effective as medication or therapy for depression. So play sports, ride a bike, or take a dance class.
- Every activity helps! If you don’t feel overwhelmed, start with a short daily walk and continue from there. Be smart about what you eat.
- Eating unhealthy foods can make you feel sluggish and tired, which makes symptoms of depression worse.
- Junk food, refined carbohydrates, and sugary snacks are the worst culprits! They can give you a quick boost, but you will feel worse in the long run.
- Make sure to feed your mind plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Talk to your parent, doctor, or school nurse about how you can make sure your diet is nutritious.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs. You may be tempted to drink or use drugs to help escape your emotions and get a “mood boost”, if only for a short time.
- However, substance use not only causes depression, it only makes it worse in the long run. Consuming alcohol and drugs can also increase feelings of suicide.
- If you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, seek help. In addition to the treatment you receive for your depression, you will need specific treatment for your drug problem.
- Aim for eight hours of sleep every night. When you feel depressed as a teenager, your sleep is usually disturbed. Whether you sleep too little or too much, your mood will suffer.
- But you can have a better sleep schedule by adopting healthy sleeping habits.
Try not to isolate yourself
- It will make your depression worse Depression causes many of us to fall back into our clams.
- You may not feel like seeing someone or doing something, and some days it can be difficult to get up in the morning. But isolating yourself only makes your depression worse. Even if it’s the last thing you want to do, try to force yourself to stay social.
Spend time face-to-face with friends
- When you get out into the world and connect with others, you will likely feel better. Spend time face-to-face with friends who make you feel good, especially those who are active, optimistic, and understanding.
- Avoid spending time with people who abuse drugs or alcohol, get you into trouble, or feel judged or unsafe.
Participate in activities that you enjoy
- Engaging in after-school activities may seem like a daunting prospect when you are depressed, but you will feel better when you do.
- Pick something that you’ve enjoyed in the past, be it a sports, art, dance or music class or an after-school club.
Doing things for others is a powerful antidepressant
- You may not feel motivated at first, but when you return your mood and enthusiasm will improve. Volunteers. Doing things for others is a powerful antidepressant and good luck charm.
- Volunteering for a cause you believe in can help you reconnect with others and the world, and give you the satisfaction of knowing that you are making a difference.
Reduce the use of social media.
- While online loss seems to temporarily relieve symptoms of depression, it can actually make you feel worse. For example, comparing yourself unfavorably with your peers on social media will only encourage feelings of depression and isolation.
- Remember: people always exaggerate the positives in their online life, eliminating the doubts and disappointments we all experience. While you can only interact with friends online, they are not a substitute for face-to-face contact.