Many people struggle with depression. The feelings of deep melancholy and utter worthlessness can lead many people to poor work, social, or scholastic performance. These symptoms are often exacerbated in teenage patients because of certain unique pressures that they must face. Teens are constantly subjected to peer pressure, strict academic expectations, and wholesale changes in their bodies that can often leave them at a loss. It is important for parents, teachers, friends, and others to notice the signs of potential teen depression. Teenagers are naturally more prone to noticeable ups and downs than are adults. It’s up to the other people in their lives to notice when a teenager’s personality has made a holistic turn for the worst.
Some of the signs of teen depression reflect the potential for poor academic performance. For instance, many adolescents suffering with depression might sleep during class, refuse to do their homework, or just generally be unmotivated to accomplish anything. Constant lethargy is one of the hallmarks of depression regardless of age, but it can be particularly striking in teens, who are supposed to be youthful and energetic more often. Feelings of complete isolation are also common in depressed adolescents. If you notice a teenager spending more and more time alone, it might be time to get them some help.
Aside from the emotional and physical changes in their bodies, teens can be subjected to environmental factors that increase their risk of depression. Losing a loved one or experiencing their parents’ divorce might foment a certain hopelessness inside them. Indeed, the deflating sense of loss, either permanent or temporary, can lead to anger, misery, and despair. Beyond that, teens must also face the daily gauntlet of being judged by their peers at school. They face the constant pressure to fit in, to be “cool,” and to perform particularly normative behaviors. This can be especially trying for teens whose sexual identity is stigmatized. Adolescents who don’t quite fit into the mainstream can often be targets of bullying. This can cause them to withdraw even further into themselves and to lose a great deal of self-esteem and self-confidence.
Despite all of these signs, fewer than 20% of teens with depression actually get properly diagnosed. This is largely because they require a parent, teacher, or other authority figure to notice the symptoms and seek out help for them. Unfortunately, many adults are not capable of discerning between normal teenage behavior and teen depression. The feelings of despair and inadequacy can set teens up for a whole host of problems later in life or, even worse, they can set them up for potential teen suicide. This is why it is increasingly important for parents to take an active role in their teenager’s life. It can mean the difference between life and death.