How do I know if my teen is depressed?
Real Mom Problem
“I think my 15-year-old daughter is depressed. She has been basically living in her room for 3 days. She hasn't gone to work, and she's eaten about a third of what she usually does.”
- 1. Look for changes in behavior like isolation, loss of interest in activities, eating less or more, slipping grades, talk of hopelessness or worthlessness
- 2. Remind your teens that they can always talk to you about anything
- 3. Talk to your teen's doctor or a counselor about your concerns
Real Mom Solutions
How do you know if it's just typical teenage angst or something more serious? See what these moms had to say about determining if your teen is depressed.
Try to Get Them to Talk to You
My daughter was in the top 5 percentage for depression -- she is WAY better now -- but I know if we are out together, just the two of us, she will usually talk to me.
Something traumatic may have happened to your teen. You need to be proactive. It could be as simple as a friend betraying her; it could be as bad as a pregnancy or a rape. You need to find out what is going on. Even if she is rebuffing you, she needs you now more than ever. Don't give up!
I think having a day out with your teen is a great idea to get them to open up. I know my boys will sometimes open up and talk while driving in the car or while eating out. See if you can figure out the problem and then you may need to consult a doctor.
Depression is like diabetes or cancer. If untreated, it can be deadly.
Our son started to open up about his depression and it turns out his girlfriend's parents abuse her, and he thought it was his fault. I knew nothing about this at all.
Look for Signs & Other Possible Issues
There are many causes of depression: Stress, chemical imbalance/hormones, loss, inherited traits, etc. can cause or trigger depression. Just because your son has a pretty good life doesn't mean mental illness can't pop up.
Teenagers, especially girls, are prone to dramatic moods. If this behavior lasts for 2 weeks or more, you may want to consult a doctor or counselor. You can find "depression scales" online. These can help you figure out if she is exhibiting true depressive symptoms. Did she have a falling-out with a friend or boyfriend? Do you know where she is in her menstrual cycle? There are just so many reasons why kids this age can exhibit these behaviors. Just keep an eye on her.
If you suspect your son is depressed, watch his grades. If he is in sports, ask the coach if he is missing practices. Ask teachers if they notice anything unusual about him. Also, go in his room and let him know you're there for him no matter what and he can tell you anything or talk to you about anything, even if it's something you don't want to hear. He needs help and support, so be his crying shoulder, hug him, and kiss him so he knows he is loved and has great people with him and to help him.
Some girls, especially mine, go through a real tortuous mental phase during their cycle. I can always tell when my youngest is going to start; she gets very moody, extremely sensitive, and emotional. She has, on occasion, wanted to just hole up in her room and "chill." This is something you may want to talk about with your daughter. Is she regular, when, too heavy, etc.? Does she see a pattern when she has it, extreme emotional feelings, etc.? Has anything changed in that area? Rule this out before you decide she is depressed. If she doesn't want to talk to you, is there another person (like a sister, brother, close friend, etc.) that she feels comfortable with sharing very personal information with? You can try going out with her. However this may not produce the results that you want. She may not be ready to open up.
If your son seems like himself and laughs and carries on in the house but doesn't want to go out of the house he may be anxious about leaving the house and wants to stay where he is most comfortable.
I shut down completely before attempting suicide a few years ago. I wound up being admitted to a psychiatric center for 21 days, where they diagnosed me with Bipolar Disorder II, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and ADHD, inattentive type. It may take medical intervention to find the source of your daughter's depression, because something (that you don't know, or couldn't have possibly known) triggered it. Sometimes it takes absolutely nothing to become depressed. It's just a change in neurotransmitters in the brain. If your daughter is no longer enjoying the things she normally would, is shutting down and not speaking to you or her loved ones, is crying alone, and is not eating, it's time to seek out professional help.
Gloominess as a teenager may be normal. I would just keep an eye on him and if he seems to be withdrawing from friends or being more "gloomy", then you might want to get him to therapy.
Take ANY Suicide Threats Seriously
I would call the police non-emergency line and report that my daughter is threatening suicide. Hopefully they will come and commit her into a juvenile psychiatric facility for 24 hours at which time they will do an evaluation. My way may seem over the top to some parents, but suicide threats should NEVER be taken lightly and if she is just saying it to get a rise out of you, perhaps this experience will prevent her from doing it again in the future. Suicide is not a joke nor should it be used to manipulate us as parents.
NEVER take threats of suicide lightly because it might just be your worst regret! From someone who lost my father to suicide when I was 14, I would say your daughter needs to talk to someone if she's threatening suicide. I have a 14-year-old son and he has never ever said anything like that when mad, so this might be the start of a cry for help! Don't let it slip by -- do something NOW!
If your son says "suicide," take it very seriously and either go to your ER or the closest large town's ER. They will hold him and evaluate him immediately. Do not keep hoping and wishing and waiting because once he turns 18, you lose the power to get him the help he needs; at that point all he has to do is say NO.