Is your teenager skulking around the house again?
As a parent, it’s difficult to know whether to file this behavior under normal teenage moodiness or whether it’s something more sinister – like depression or substance abuse. Sadly, conditions like depression or anxiety can quickly lead to your teen abusing alcohol or worse. It’s important to keep tabs on your teen’s behavior to identify when a problem may be looming.
Many things can trigger depression in a teen, and military life can certainly exacerbate issues. Whenever behaviors border on the extreme, it’s time to get some help.
Here are some of the signs that your teen is depressed:
If your teen starts withdrawing from family events, it’s definitely a cause for concern. But when your child also favors alone time over spending time with friends, he or she may be depressed.
Some kids prefer alone time more than others, so keep an eye on your child to look for changes. For example, if your child was always kind of a loner and this doesn’t change in the teenage years, it may not be a problem. On the other hand, if your kid was a social butterfly and suddenly prefers spending time alone, there’s a reason.
How to help:
When you notice these patterns in your child’s behavior, talk to him or her about what’s going on. There’s a chance its depression, bullying, or substance abuse. You’ll want to find out what you’re dealing with in order to get the appropriate help.
Obvious behavioral changes
Teens who are depressed are likely to withdraw from activities that they once loved. So, if your child was a soccer superstar and refuses to play as a teen, there may be a problem. This is especially true if the child doesn’t replace the activity with something else. It’s common for kids to change their interests and try new things, but if your teen drops an activity they previously loved for no good reason, it’s time for a chat.
How to help:
Talk to your child about the activity and why it’s no longer appealing. Ask about the other kids involved. There’s a chance bullying may be at play, so pay careful attention to your child’s attitude about the other teens involved. If you can’t talk through what’s going on, encourage your child to pick up another activity that may be appealing to them.
Anger and moodiness
When your teen is depressed, you will likely get the brunt of whatever rage they are feeling. When someone is depressed, feelings of anger or irritation can come in waves.
Keep in mind that some moodiness is inherent in being a teen (due to hormonal changes). However, you’ll want to look out for any behavior that seems extreme. Quickly switching from one mood to another is a warning sign that something is wrong. You should also be concerned if your child is showing signs of rage. While some moodiness may be expected from teens, it’s important for us to recognize and address extreme behaviors.
How to help:
Wait for a calm moment to talk to your child about his behavior. Let him know that it’s not okay to act in anger, but you’re there for support if they’re struggling with something. If your child admits that he has trouble containing his emotions or the problem gets worse, then you should seek counseling for your teen.
Teenage depression is a serious mental health issue that must be addressed. If you identify that your child has a problem, don’t hesitate to get help. If left untreated, depression can have serious negative outcomes. Get help for your child before things get worse. There’s truly no downside.