During the teenage years, teenagers go through a lot of changes, both physical and emotional. When you see your teenager’s behavior changing, it’s easy to become worried that they seem depressed. Worse still, you might be worried your teenage seems depressed enough to hurt themselves.
Is My Teenager Depressed?
Some of the common behavior changes parents tend to see is withdrawal from the family—often keeping to themselves instead of spending time with family. They can lose interest in activities they used to enjoy. They may stop spending time with their usual friends. Your teenager may also spend too much time sleeping or show changes in appetite. Depressed teenagers often show signs of secrecy, keeping more things from parents or showing signs of evasion. An obvious sign of depression is cutting. If you notice small cuts on your teenagers arms, legs, or torso, or notice blood on bedsheets and pillow cases, it could be a sign of teenage cutting.
There are lots of things that can cause depression for teenagers. It can be a loss of a family member, loss of a friendship or boyfriend or girlfriend, changes in family such as divorce, worry about parents due to things such as job loss and potential homelessness. Many teenagers worry about their grades and their future career options. These are just a few things that can cause depression in teens.
What To Do
If your teenager seems depressed, never take it lightly and don’t assume that they will just snap out of it. Doing this could end in disaster. If you think your teen is depressed, seek counseling as soon as possible. Even if your teenager is angry with you about counseling, explain to them that you’d rather have them alive and angry than dead. I’ve had this conversation with several teens over the years.
Many teens who come to counseling are not overly happy to be there. However, they are often appreciative that their parents care enough about them to get them into counseling even if they don’t want to do counseling. Oftentimes, my teenage clients only have one goal—to not have to come to counseling anymore. That’s a perfectly fine goal to work with for counseling because the counselor can them help them do the things their parents need to see happen in order to be comfortable ending counseling. In the process of meeting this goal, they usually end up finding other goals they do want to work on. Usually once they start counseling, they become more comfortable talking to the counselor and are no longer reluctant to do counseling.
Counseling for Teenagers
Quite often, one of the first things parents need to see from depressed teenagers is for them to come out of their bedrooms and participate with the family more often, or talk more about their day with parents. There can be some negotiations with parents about giving them some amount of privacy during these conversations such as parents not asking too many questions. Teens are often more agreeable to talking to parents about their days when they feel safe they won’t be “interrogated” by parents with 20 or 30 questions when they give some personal information. This is a good start.
If you are asking yourself whether your teenager is depressed”?, feel free to contact me to start counseling or just ask questions.
Gary Watson is a Solution Focused Therapist in Grand Rapids Michigan. He provides counseling for couples, counseling for teenagers, and adults. He provides counseling for anxiety, depression, stress, college and work stress, and relationship problems. For more information, please visit the website at www.turnaboutcounseling.com.