Signs your child is depressed:
- Has she been sad or irritable most of the day, most days in a week for at least two weeks?
- Has she lost interest in things that she used to really enjoy?
- Have her eating or sleeping habits changed?
- Does she have very little energy, very little motivation to do much of anything?
- Is she feeling worthless, hopeless about her future, or guilty about things that aren’t her fault?
- Have her grades dropped, or is she finding it difficult to concentrate?
- Has she had thoughts of suicide? If so it’s crucial you have her evaluated by a mental health professional immediately. If the thoughts are really serious and there is imminent threat, you will need to take her to an ER.
- If your teen shows more than a few of these signs she may have depression that warrants professional attention. While you can’t make her want to get better, there are some things that you as her parent can do. And it starts with simply being there for her.
- One of the most important things you can do for your teen is to work on strengthening your relationship. Try to build empathy and understanding by putting yourself in his shoes. You might be frustrated that he seems down and irritable a lot of the time and doesn’t seem to be doing much of anything to help himself. But if there isn’t much in his life that is making him happy, or something intensely disappointing has happened to him, it’s understandable that he might avoid things he used to enjoy and retreat to his room. Depression makes even doing the smallest things more difficult.
Try to validate his emotions, not his unhealthy behavior. For example, you could say, “It seems as though you’ve been really down lately. Is that true?” Make it clear that you want to try to understand what’s troubling him without trying to problem solve.