If you have a teenager, then you should know how to watch out for teen depression, which can be easily discounted by parents as drama, and which can claim the life of your child. Many teenagers display behavior that their parents call "moody", and they dismiss it when their teens mention depression or when their behavior comes in line with depression, leading to a complete lack of the vital warning signs that could prevent many teen tragedies. If you have a teenager, then it is vital that you know the signs of teen depression and what to do if your teenager is acting in a way that seems in line with this disease.
It is important to note that depression is a disease and a serious condition. The teenage brain is one that is in a crucial stage of development, and while it is possible that your teen's moodiness is simply the exertion of his or her will to be independent, it could also be an important warning for you and your family to take positive action. If your teenager is sleeping a lot, you could be looking at one of the many warning signs for depression. This is especially true if your teen is sleeping earlier in the evening and has trouble getting up in the morning, and if he or she still seems tired no matter how much sleep he or she gets. If this is accompanied by a loss or increase in appetite or other behavioral changes, talk to them to see if anything is amiss, and do not be afraid to consult a mental health professional on their behalf to see if you should take further action now or just wait and watch. Insomnia is also a symptom of depression, expressing a duality on the sleep scale such as is normal with this type of mental illness. If your teen professes that they cannot sleep, depression might not be the cause, but neither should it be entirely ruled out. If your child suffers from insomnia and also is showing changes in behavior or mood, consult a professional.
In addition to sleeping, eating habits might also change rather dramatically when your teenager becomes depressed. If he or she is eating much more or much less than usual and also has displayed changes of mood, you could be looking at depression as a cause. Be sure that it is not merely a diet that your teen is trying out, or an attempt to bulk up for a sport team before you confront them or go for help.
Depression is characterized with a feeling of helplessness, hopelessness, and lethargy, and suicide is not necessarily the product of self-hate, but can also be seen by suffers as a means of escape from the pain and/or numbness that they are feeling. If your teen is feeling depressed, he or she may not cry at all, but may be prone to lashing out in anger for no apparent reason (something that most parents have witnessed, and which is not always a sign of depression). They might feel the need to talk to their friends, but might also isolate themselves, preferring to spend time alone, perhaps even in the dark. They may forego meals, or they may prefer to eat frequently, usually preferring comfort foods over a normal meal, and will probably prefer to eat in isolation.
If your teen is depressed and cannot become isolated physically, he or she may seek to become isolated by means of pushing family away with emotional outbursts or by ignoring or provoking you. Try to keep in mind that they may be suffering from a very challenging mental condition, and be patient with them, seeking medical help if at all possible. One of the most telling signs that your teenager is suffering from depression is a lack of interest in things that he or she has previously held dear. A thespian's loss of interest in acting might be caused by a rift within the drama guild, but it might also be a product of the mental and emotional state that they are in.
If you cannot discern any other reason for the change in interest, your teen may be depressed. Keep in mind that you should not take radical action based on only one or even two symptoms alone. Your teen might be irritable and tired because he or she is being worked very hard at school, and your well-meaning intervention might be only a further source of frustration to them. If your teen is displaying multiple signs of depression, consult a mental health specialist with your suspicions and the symptoms, and let them help you to decide how to act in the best interests of your teenager.