Depression is a very common mental illness in teens. About 20 percent of all teens experience depression before they reach adulthood. That is a worrying statistic. However, it’s scary how many adults don’t seem to realise that depression can affect children and teens. Recently when Willow Smith (Will Smith’s daughter) came out and said she suffered with depression, the comments at the bottom of many articles were slating her, asking “what have you got to be depressed about?”. It seems many people don’t understand that mental illnesses don’t discriminate between age and circumstance. Depression doesn’t just affect adults. Children and teenagers can get depressed too.
Some studies show that almost one in four young people will experience depression before they are 19 years old. It’s important to get help early if you think your child or teen may be depressed. The longer it goes on, the more likely it is to disrupt your child’s life and turn into a long-term problem. So, Psych2Go shares with you 5 ways to recognise depression in teens.
1) Continuous low mood or sadness
This is when you’ll feel very sad and low for a prolonged period of time. If you’re feeling this way, things that normally lift your mood won’t bring you the same joy and happiness. You will also feel low for no specific reason and will find it difficult to shake off this feeling. If a teenager in your life seems to be continually low, or out of sorts it may be best to approach them and ask them how they’re feeling. It might be good for them to talk about their mood.
2) Being irritable or intolerant of others
This is a very common symptom of depression. Often, you’ll have a very short temper, and snap at your loved ones for no apparent reason. Irritability can be missed as a symptom of depression in teens as teenagers are stereotyped as moody and irritable. However, if you notice a change in their mood it might be best to discuss it with them. This could be because they’re having a rough time at school and not related to depression, so it’s best to get the whole picture.
3) Showing feelings of helplessness
Often if you’re suffering with depression you’ll feel out of depth and like you aren’t in control of your life. You can feel completely helpless and confused. Feeling confused is normal for a teenager as they’re going through changes in their body and growing up, however if this symptom persists and they feel helpless in their own mind, it could be signifying that something more serious is wrong. If they’re showing feelings of helplessness that could mean they want you to help. Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk about this.
4) Increasing social isolation
When you’re not feeling yourself and your mood is low, it can lead to social isolation. Often when you feel so low, being around people is difficult as you have to act as you ‘normally’ would. This can be a strain and cause you to just give up with socialising altogether. If you notice a withdrawal from social situations, it’s best to have a talk with them. It could be they’re having some difficulties in their friendship group, not a sign of depression. So, its beneficial to check so you can help.
5) Little to no enjoyment of things they once liked
This can mean they’re not that infused with after school clubs, like music practise or sports. They might even not want to go to their clubs and could drop out. This will then add to the social isolation. They also might not watch their favourite TV shows with as much fervour and not part take in their usual social routine.
The symptoms I have listed here aren’t symptoms that everyone will feel. If you think a teenager in your life could be suffering with depression, it’s important to do some wider reading. If you’re based in the U.K the NHS website is very useful, and in the U.S the Anxiety and Depression Association of America website is also very informative. Don’t hesitate to go to your doctor for help if you feel you need it.
What do you think?
Have you struggled with depression? What do you do to help? Psych2Go would love to know! Be sure to leave a comment below!
Depression in children and teenagers, NHS. Retrieved 23rd May 2018