It’s not a secret that teenagers are sometimes moody, but ongoing moodiness is often more serious than your average hormone-fueled teen behavior. The fact is, teen depression is more common than you might think. Some of your teen’s moodiness could be tied to depression, so it’s important you know what signs to look for.
Trouble Sleeping or Excessive Sleeping
Adolescents need about 9.5 hours of sleep each day, so it is normal for your teenager to sleep more than an adult or a child would, but if you notice your teen’s sleep pattern starts to get excessive, it could be a sign of depression. Also, sometimes teens with depression have trouble sleeping. They may seem anxious or stressed out, which can make it hard for them to sleep.
While it’s important to pay attention to your teen’s sleep patterns if you suspect he or she is living with depression, it’s equally important once your teen is being treated for depression. Irregular sleep patterns can also be a sign of alcohol or drug abuse, which is also common in depressed teens. And mixing alcohol and antidepressants is extremely dangerous, as is mixing antidepressants with certain drugs.
Excessive Irritability or Unusual Outbursts
Depression manifests differently in each person — and it’s important to understand that depression doesn’t equal sad. People living with depression may not burst into tears over every little thing. And, with teens especially, it can be hard to distinguish whether their behavior is normal hormone-fueled teen behavior or something more serious.
It’s a good idea to pay attention to how intense your teen’s reaction is in certain circumstances. It’s common for teens to overreact but those who are battling depression may experience above-normal bouts of anger or get extremely upset in situations that aren’t all that serious. You might notice outbursts of uncontrolled anger, followed by excessive apologies and crying once the anger passes and your teen realizes he or she behaved badly. Also, if your teen is depressed he or she may threaten to run away a lot or actually run away.
Keep in mind, it’s also common for adolescents to have sudden outbursts in an effort to get your attention. They are still learning how to express their feelings in a healthy way, so they act out. If you aren’t sure whether the outbursts are from depression or because he or she needs more of your attention, try spending some quality time your teen to see if that resolves the problem.
Isolation or a Generally Depressed Mood
Teens who are living with depression may spend a lot of time alone in their bedrooms. It’s common for those with depression to cut themselves off from family and friends and spend a lot of time alone.
You might notice an overall generally depressed mood. Your teen might not get excited about anything or show interest in anything. Instead of hanging out with friends and participating in normal teen activities, a depressed teen may seem like he or she is just going through the motions each day.
This behavior might also extend to your adolescent’s life at school. You might notice his or her grades have dropped and an overall frustration with the school that wasn’t there previously.
Reckless behavior is also common in teens living with depression. You might notice he or she engages in dangerous activities, drives recklessly, binge drinks, or become promiscuous. This behavior may stem from your teen having low self-esteem, which is also a common sign of depression.
If you think your teen may be living with depression, you should seek professional help as soon as possible. Both your regular doctor and school counselors can help you find resources to help you get your teen the treatment he or she needs.