How do I know if my tween is depressed?
Real Mom Problem
“My 9-year-old daughter has been acting depressed lately. We've caught her crying. She has said that she just doesn't have many friends and no one likes her. Could puberty be making her depressed? I don't want to put her through counseling if it's not depression, but I can't stand to see her crying.”
- 1. Look for changes in behavior such as loss of interest in activities, social withdrawal, lack of personal hygiene, or negative talk
- 2. Recognize that some moodiness and changing emotions are typical of tweens going through puberty
- 3. Remind your tween that he or she can always talk to you about anything
- 4. Always talk to a counselor or your tween's doctor if you have concerns about your child's mental health
Real Mom Solutions
It can be hard to tell if a moody and emotional tween is depressed, or just your typical preteen. Check out this mom-to-mom advice on how to determine if your child is depressed.
Observe, Listen, & Consult a Counselor
I'm going to a meeting with a therapist for my daughter. My daughter said she was suicidal, so I'm getting her help. I did not realize she was suffering so much. I cried, she cried. I feel like such a bad mom. I know most kids go through this, but some kids are just predisposed to take on the world with more hurt feelings. They make it harder on themselves when they shouldn't. Depression runs in our family.
There is a problem if your tween is sad a lot. It will not go away without getting to the root of the problem. Talk to your daughter's counselors at school, her friends, and talk to your daughter until she opens up. Let her know some things you went through at that age, but let her do the talking. Make sure she knows that everyone goes through sad times. Talking is the first step. Also, have her write down on paper things that make her happy and things that make her sad, in two columns. This really gives insight.
Some depressed feelings are normal with puberty because of hormonal changes, but it shouldn't be most of the time. I would have your tween talk to a counselor, and I'd limit computer, video games, and TV time, as these can make depression worse.
Watch Out for Puberty Moodiness
My daughter started to get depressed and moody when she was around 11 years old. Needless to say, her period was right around the corner. I would drag her to the zoo, make her favorite foods, or just take her to the grocery store and buy her her favorite snacks just to distract her. I really started to get worried when she would spend the whole day in her pajamas. At times I would just sit with her and talk, watch movies, cartoons, pretty much whatever she wanted to do. I would say about three months later, she started her period. I would suggest that you just speak with your daughter and ask her why she is depressed and based on her answers, you can figure out if it is puberty or if something is really bothering her.
My daughter just turned 12 and she's had moments when she would be perfectly fine and then within minutes she was crying. I would ask her what's wrong and she would say she really didn't know. I would say, "It could be your hormones, but if you want to talk I am here, or if you just need a hug I am here." Not long after, she had her first period. After that she has seemed to be less moody. She will get really tried, and she does seem to roll her eyes at me a little more often right before it starts, but the crying has stopped.
I think tweens all go through periods of energy, as well as periods of being tired and achy. There are lots of physical changes that can explain a tween being tired with no energy, although it is true that you have to keep an eye on the emotional side. Some emotional ups and downs are very normal, so I think only a doctor can really probe and tell if it is depression or anxiety.
I was worried for a while that my 12-year-old might be depressed. I even took him to talk with a counselor. It was just a phase, I think. The kids at this age go through so much. It is hard for them to deal with the pressures of school and the social aspects of middle school. Not to mention their changing bodies and hormones. I find it best to give my son about a half-hour window between school and home where I just don't ask questions. It's a very hard transition between school world and home world.