How to Spot the First Signs of Teen Depression

Recently About.com posted a really helpful post about the “First Signs of Teen Depression.” The post was written by About.com’s resident teen health expert Denise Witmer. Here is the beginning of Denise’s post.

Many times parents of teens who have tried to or have committed suicide struggle with the idea that there were signs of their teen’s depression that they missed. In an effort to help the parents in our site’s community, I have put up a page where parents of teens who have dealt with depression can share the first signs that they’ve noticed.

One dad shares: “My 18 yr old son has lost interest in almost everything. Over a number of years his interest in various things (sports, etc.) has been reduced, he is not interested in much (barely interested in online gaming, used to be his passion), sleeps because he is bored (not tired), no interest in friends.”

To read the rest of the post go here

ACS’ Director of Outpatient Counseling Services, Connie Mayer and Program Director of the On-Campus Counseling Program, Roni J. Gillenson also took a moment to share their expertise on how to spot the first signs of depression in your child and suggest ways parents can address this period in their teens life.

Connie Mayer:

As Director of our Adolescent Substance Abuse Program I talk with
parents on a daily basis who struggle with why their teens are using
and abusing drugs and alcohol. Many teens are using substances to
“self medicate”. By this I mean using drugs to deal with difficult
emotions such as sadness or depression, anxiousness, social anxiety,
or deeper traumas from their past .A teen who is “self medicating” can
lose touch with important relationships in their lives and parents may
have a gut feeling that their teen is in trouble. A gut feeling is all
a parent needs. Seek help – ask questions, talk to a professional. As
the teen and their family begin the process of healing, the teen
begins to feel their feelings without the substances numbing their
thoughts and experiences. This awakening can bring the teen and their
family closer together and together they can begin to navigate through
this developmental phase of adolescence and beyond.

Roni J. Gillenson:

Depression in adolescents can also look like anger.  So, if you have a teen who seems angry all of the time, talk to a professional and gather more information. Since depression can be difficult to express, anger is often the easier feeling to project. Loss of interest in things they were once interested in such as; not hanging out with friends as much, isolating, not communicating, are also signs that something is going one.  Don’t be afraid to ask your teen how they are and how they are feeling.  Let them know you have seen these specific changes in them and that you are concerned because you care.  If they don’t answer you right away, just make sure you ‘leave the door open’ for future conversations and are available at any time for them.  Communicating this to them lets them know that you care and it doesn’t have to be ‘on your schedule’.  Also, I would highly recommend talking to a professional about the symptoms you are seeing and ask for support.

Adolescent Counseling Services as an organization cares very deeply for teenagers and their social and emotional health. If you have any questions about your child and their health please visit acs-teens.org for helpful resources. If you are in the Santa Clara County or San Mateo County of Northern California please don’t hesitate to call ACS at 650-424-0852 ext 104 to speak with one of our counselors.

One Response to “How to Spot the First Signs of Teen Depression”

  1. You are refreshingly honest!

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