How To Spot The Difference Between Teen Depression or Just Bad Moods.

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6 million prescriptions for antidepressants are written for children each year which I think is a shocking statistic.

I’m working with a family where the teenage boy is refusing to go to school and wants to stay in bed all day and so I thought I’d write about ways to spot the difference between the normal teenage “Grunt & Sigh” Stage and Teenage Depression which is unfortunately on the increase around the world.

Depression in your teenager  may be difficult to spot because sulkiness, irritability, antisocial behaviour, negativity and withdrawal often go hand in hand with growing up during the “terrible teens” – it’s that “grunt and sigh” time as I like to call it with the parents of the teens I work with.

Children and teenagers can been taught specific skills and ways of thinking which can help to lift low moods and build long term self esteem and positive self confidence, which I teach on my 5 Step Self Esteem Solution Workshops on Saturday mornings.

If you are unsure but worried here are some Symptoms of Teenage Depression

  • A noticeable downward trend in their performance at school or college.
  • A noticeable change in their personal hygiene and/or  appearance.
  • More noticeable increase in their destructive and/or defiant behaviour.
  • Hallucinations or unusual beliefs.
  • You notice that there has been a noticeable change in their appetite or weight either up or downwards.
  • They may appear more restless, agitated or they may appear more passive and lethargic.
  • They appear to have lost a lot of energy, & complain of feeling tired all the time.
  • You hear lots of negative comments and  complaints from them of feeling guilty or worthless (‘everything is my fault’, ‘I’m useless, hopeless or just bad’)
  • You notice that they have a belief that life is not worth living.

You may find the following checklist useful if you fear your teenager/child is depressed but do use your judgement as lots of teens display some of these traits during their teenage years. Remember that these points refer to changes in their behaviour and if you are at all concerned about your child, speak to them about it, and take them to see your doctor if you are still worried.

  • Snapping at people for no apparent reason – irritable
  • Physically or verbally aggressive
  • Abandoning favourite hobbies or sports
  • Increased passive TV watching
  • Increased risk-taking; e.g., dangerous driving
  • Misuse of drugs and alcohol
  • Changes in school behaviour and attitude.
  • Frequent absences from school poorer grades than before.
  • Complains of being bored
  • Becomes disruptive in class
  • Finds it harder to stay on task. Loses concentration easily
  • Mentally confused. Finds decisions difficult to make
  • Cannot remember commitments – doesn’t keep appointments
  • Has difficulty staying still or conversely, is lethargic
  • Changes in relationship to family and friends
  • Stops going out with friends; shows no interest in group outings
  • Increase or decrease in sexual activity
  • May start associating with a different peer group
  • Expresses negativity about family
  • Loses interest in activities which once were fun
  • More conflicts with you and their siblings than usual
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Changes in feeling, thinking and perceiving
  • Expresses inappropriate guilt, feelings of not being good enough, worthlessness, failure
  • Expresses hopelessness and having nothing to look forward to
  • Speaks in a monotonous or monosyllabic manner
  • Has a preoccupation with themselves & becomes very withdrawn
  • Cries easily, looks sad, feels alone or isolated
  • Has fears about having to be perfect
  • Fearful of doing something bad
  • Incidents of self-injury or self harm.


Causes of Teenage Depression

While it’s very easy to blame too much gaming, screen time and media pressure, and we know that there are definite links, there can be triggers from circumstances like feeling rejected, teased or bullied at school, family change – like divorce, or worry around exam pressure.

While the triggers or causes of teenage depression may not appear such major events to you, it is the sufferer’s perception that is so important.

The high rate of depression may be due to the intense pressures felt by teenagers these days, coupled with a lack of life experiences that tell them that situations, however bad, tend to get better with time. They are also less likely to possess more subtle thinking styles, being prone to the more extreme, ‘all or nothing’ style of thinking and this can play a large factor in depression.

Medication for Teenage Depression – Does it Really Work & Is It Really Necessary?

6 million prescriptions for antidepressants are written for children each year which I think is a shocking statistic.

Despite the staggering amount of antidepressants prescribed to adolescents and teenagers, very little research has been done into their effectiveness. From what research has been done, there is no definitive proof that depression medication is an effective treatment for teen depression.

There are differences in the chemical changes seen in teenage depression sufferers when compared to adults. It is this chemical imbalance that is treated by antidepressants. So, different chemical changes are treated with the same drugs. In fact there are differences in how teenage and adult brains actually function – the frontal lobe, for example, is still forming up until the age of 20.

So if you are at all worried about your teenager go and find them someone to talk to, as teenagers may open up more readily to a professional rather than to you, and it is vital that they get the help support and nurturing they need. Here are my resources for raising happy, confident, well balanced teenagers.

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