The Dangers of Teenage Depression
Most of the time it seems like depression is a fundamental part of the adolescent years. Your teenager is facing a shifting morass of change both within and without. No matter where they look something, maybe everything, is changing and they cannot control the change itself-only their response to it.
Its an extremely emotional time and the difficulty is only heightened by the effects of hormones on the developing young adult body. Add the achingly slow final developments of the brain's center of rational development and you have a dangerous and chaotic brew.
Without the proper support, no child could be expected to make it through unscathed and few do. Despite all this, not every teen will suffer from the effects of teenage depression and though it is a very real problem, it is also a difficult one to catch and treat effectively.
The Problem of Teenage Depression
Depression seems particularly dreadful when it strikes teenagers, who are among the most vulnerable members of the population. These children have their whole lives ahead of them, but instead of living, they are stuck in a cycle of persistent sadness and discouragement. They've lost their sense of self worth and with it their interest in the usual activities of their young lives. They may even lose interest in life itself.
Unfortunately, the symptoms of severe depression in teenagers can mask themselves in other problems or even the normal and expected behaviors of the teen's life. If you are close to a teenager, be alert for these signs and symptoms that something may be seriously wrong:
* Acting-out behavior (missing curfews, unusual defiance)
* Appetite changes (usually a loss of appetite but sometimes an increase)
* Criminal behavior (such as shoplifting)
* Depressed or irritable mood
* Difficulty concentrating
* Difficulty making decisions
* Episodes of memory loss
* Excessive sleeping or daytime sleepiness
* Excessively irresponsible behavior pattern
* Excessive or inappropriate feelings of guilt
* Failing relations with family and friends
* Faltering school performance
* Feelings of worthlessness, sadness, or self-hatred
* Loss of interest in activities
* Persistent difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep (insomnia)
* Plans to commit suicide or actual suicide attempt
* Preoccupation with self
* Reduced pleasure in daily activities
* Substance abuse
* Temper (agitation)
* Thoughts about suicide or obsessive fears or worries about death
* Weight change (unintentional weight loss or gain)
Look for sudden or unexplained changes and don't allow yourself to lose touch with the struggles of your teen's day-to-day life.
Hope for Depression
If you see signs of depression in your teen make sure that they see a doctor who can help them. There are treatments available for depression and your doctor can help you determine whether depression is the root of the problem or a symptom of something else. Either way, the condition can be treated with therapy and medication. Though it will take time, these treatments, along with your help and support, may eventually allow your teen to regain control of his or her life.
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