Teenagers have a lot to deal with: expectations of parents, school work and social lives, both real and virtual. These pressures can affect both their body and mind and cause mood swings that parents may worry about.
Parents can have a difficult time navigating their growing teen’s emotions, and a natural — and common — question is whether these emotions are affected by hormones or, perhaps, depression. No parents wants their son or daughter to face depression alone, so it is important to understand the difference between the natural hormonal growth that everyone goes through and the signs of depression. Here is a little help for parents who are having trouble telling the difference.
Natural Teenage Hormones
While puberty affects boys and girls differently, there are some common behaviors that arise when a child goes through puberty.
First, remember that they are probably confused and worried. Their bodies begin to change in ways they didn’t expect or know how to deal with. This can cause anxiety about their appearance, a big concern for any high-school aged kid. They may begin to lash out if you bring the issue up, which is also natural. While issues like these can give parents headaches, they are natural and usually no cause for alarm.
They are also growing emotionally, so they may not be the same dependent child they once were. They will want to strike out on their own and test boundaries, so it’s good to give them a little space. If they begin defying you in extreme ways and very frequently, then there may be a problem, but otherwise, this is a natural reaction during puberty and you can probably rest assured knowing that they are not depressed.
Signs of Depression
If certain behaviors — both emotional and physical — become more common over an extended period of time, you may want to look at little more closely at your child. While depression isn’t the norm, it can be fairly common and may require the help of trained professionals to help your child through it.
Look for changes in mood, especially fits of crying for no reason. This can be a sign of emotional struggles that may be getting to hard for your child to deal with on his or her own. They may also withdraw more, not only from parents and siblings, but from friends as well. Spending time alone is good, but spending far too much time away from friends and family can be a sign of depression.
Drug use can also be a sign. Although many teenagers may experiment with drugs, prolonged drug use can be their attempt at self-medicating their problems. If you think your child is has a drug problem, contact clearbrookinc.com and they can help.
Talk to Your Teenager
The best to for you to tell the difference between nature and depression is to talk to your children. Despite what you may think about the moody nature of teenagers, they actually respect your opinion and will respond with honesty if you know how to talk to them.
At first, it may be a struggle. They may feign indifference or completely ignore you, but if you keep trying and don’t get angry over the situation, they will eventually respond. If you continue to do this every day, it will eventually become a habit and your child may even open up on his or her own accord when they have a problem.
Once you can talk, you can determine whether or not they are depressed. They are, after all, your children and even though they are changing, you still know them pretty well. Never be accusatory and always listen to their responses.
Find the Right Help
Unlike adults who must seek treatment on their own, teenagers rely on their parents to help them find treatment of they are depressed, even if they won’t admit it. The good news is, if you think your child is truly depressed, that there is help out there.
Depression can be a result of many things — chemical imbalances, the inability to cope — and there are professionals who can help with all of it. Psychologists can help teens who find life tough to deal with by suggesting coping mechanisms that will help them now and in the future. If the depression is a result of a condition that requires mediation, they can help with that, too.
Just don’t wait too long to figure out what is going on with your child. Talk to them and figure out what is bothering them.
Toby Ryan works in medical research and is a parent two teen kids. Always interested in health topics of today, he contributes his thoughts online.