It is now increasingly obvious to doctors that depression among teenagers happens to more young people than was previously understood. Depression can make you think there is nothing in your life, or in your future, except negatives, but this is how depression tries to kill you. It is a filter that sends messages over your brain, convincing you slowly that everything is negative and always will be negative, and it can be very painful.
If you find that you no longer feel like seeing friends, contacting them by telephone, SMS or email etc., it is possible that you are developing depression. If you feel more tired than usual, more irritated with people than usual, and especially if you are much more pessimistic and negative than usual, it is very likely that you have depression. The depression will eventually fade away completely, leaving you back to your normal self, but it can do you a lot of damage in the meantime.
Depression often makes people ignore their self-care, take risks they would never otherwise take, and generally see life as not worth living. As it gets worse, people find themselves thinking more about the possibility of being dead. This is a "computer virus" taking over your brain, and it can be eradicated pretty easily, if you see a mental health professional, or your local doctor.
As the parent of a teenager, your teen may be somewhat withdrawn and moody anyway, as a normal part of growing up. This can make the identification of any kind of depression difficult. Communication with teens can be a challenge, but talking through difficulties, and offering support can help to give them perspective on something that may initially seem overwhelming.
· Sleeping problems
· Reduced time spent with peers
· Lack of personal care and appearance
· Drug and/or alcohol abuse
· Reduced enjoyment of their usual activities
· Talk of suicide and death
Depression or depressive illness needs to be taken seriously, especially with teens who because of their passion and inexperience of life may overstate the gravity of relationship breakup, peer friendships etc. without the perspective that comes with age and experience.
If communication lines between parent and child are fractured, then invite a family friend or neighbour who can provide a shoulder to lean on. Always consider whether a health professional should be consulted.