Is my child depressed?
The pressure from balancing school, relationships and keeping up with extracurricular activities can be difficult to handle. But, all of these things can also take a toll on a teenager’s mental health. For some, the stress and pressure of the teen years can lead to depression.
One in eight teens suffer from depression, according to KidsHealth.org. It is critical parents are aware of the signs of the chemical imbalance so they can help their children as soon as possible.
Some signs to watch for include distinct periods of abnormal irritable mood, inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, more talkative than usual, disconnected or racing thoughts, excessive involvement in inappropriate social behavior, and being easily distracted.
“Paying attention to your child’s behavior, as well as any changes in their lifestyle, grades or friends, is essential in making sure they are receiving the attention or help they may need,” says Dr. Maleeha Ahsan, a psychiatrist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill. “Writing off certain behaviors as ‘just being a teen’ can have harmful effects in the long run.”
For parents trying to help a teen with depression, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following tips:
- Keep communication constant, open and honest: Your children should not only know that they can talk to you about anything, you have to be committed to broaching topics of concern and do so openly. Talk about your own experiences and fears when you were an adolescent.
- Understand that mental health disorders are treatable: Arm yourself with information about the most common mental health disorders among adolescents – speak with your child’s pediatrician, your local health department, your religious leader, and your child’s school representatives about what sorts of information are available from them.
- Be attentive to your teen’s behavior: Adolescence is a time of transition and change, but severe, dramatic or abrupt changes in behavior can be strong indicators of serious mental health issues.
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