How to Recognize Depression in Young People

Mental Fitness

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The age group this post is referring to is between the ages of 13-24, but if your child is younger, or older, the symptoms are pretty much the same.

Keep in mind that this age group is an emotionally charged one. They don’t just feel things, they FEEL things – and one or two of the symptoms listed in 1 -9 aren’t cause for alarm, provided they don’t last over 2 weeks. If even one symptom lasts longer than that, it could signal mild depression. Left untreated, even the mildest depression can grow.

With that in mind, here are 10 of the signs of depression to watch for in young people:

1. Has he stopped activities that he once enjoyed?

2. Is it difficult to recall the last time she was excited about something?

3. Does he seem to have “nothing to look forward to?”

4. Does she get angry easily, and often, inappropriately? Like adults, children often try to mask their depression with anger. Anger makes more sense to them than depression, and given a choice – they’d rather be mad than sad. So that’s the emotion they run with. Many angry, problematic kids are simply lost in sadness. The yelling and lashing out are substitues for the crying they feel like doing.

5. Have you noticed a change in your child’s eating habits? Has there been a significant weigh gain or loss? As a mother of three, I can say that this is one of those things that you shouldn’t get too alarmed about if it doesn’t last long, and if it isn’t accompanied by other symptoms. Young girls, especially, will have spells where they think they’re too fat…then they’re too thin….then they’re too fat again – they can be all over the place with that one. Reassuring them (even if you have to do so 100 times a week) will help, as will getting them involved in physical activities such as tennis, walking, golf, skating, volleyball, cycling, etc.

However, I’ve also read enough about eating disorders to know that a parent should keep an eye on any sort of food and weight-related drama. Most of the time, it’ll all clear up, but if it doesn’t, get help. Eating disorders kill.

6. Does it seem to take him a long time to make a decision? Is his thinking unusually “slow-paced?”

7. Does she cry for no apparent reason?

8. Are his sleeping patterns out of the norm? Does he sleep too much or complain of not being able to sleep at all?

9. Does she place undue guilt on herself? Does she ridicule her looks or say only negative things about herself?

10. Does he talk about death and/or suicide? If so, PLEASE GET HELP IMMEDIATELY.

If your child has any of the symptoms, talk to her – but most importantly listen. The answers lie in what they say. If they feel insecure, help find ways to boost their esteem. A new outfit, hairstyle, make-up, or pair of shoes can do a lot of wonders (for all of us!). These years are very difficult – sometimes frighteningly so. There are so many changes, peer pressures, adjustments, and transitions it’s a wonder any of us made it through those years unscathed.

Let her know you’re there and that she can talk to you about anything without fear of being judged or laughed at. Don’t ever try to downplay her worries or concerns. Realize that not having the same brand of jeans as “Brandi” may seem sitcom-ish to you, but to a 14 year old it’s borderline devastating.

Be certain she knows that you won’t tell anyone else what she says to you – then keep your promise.

Make each moment with your son or daughter count double,
Joi

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