Is my teen sad or depressed?

Updated: Jan 26, 2019

There can be a fine line when comparing sadness with depression. They often look very similar. As parents, it is very important to learn to recognize the signs to look for in your children. Depression in your child may also look very different than depression in yourself or an adult you may know. Signs of depression in your child or teen may be more difficult to recognize because they may be misinterpreted as unruliness, rebellion, moodiness, changing hormones, or mere growing pains. Teens especially can easily become overwhelmed by school, peer pressure, and family expectations. Feelings of sadness can set in. There is, however, a difference between sadness and depression. Everyone feels sad at times. Feeling sad is a part of life and unless a person is able to feel sadness, he or she would not be able to feel joy. According to, the difference in sadness vs. depression can be demonstrated in the intensity and longevity of the sadness. Feelings of sadness go away after a day or two. Something happy can turn those feelings around rather quickly. Depression does not just go away. It lingers, and can incapacitate a person.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, here are some of the signs of depression to look out for in your child or teen:

· Loss of energy

· Feelings of guilt

· Changes in sleep habits

· Increased sadness and irritability

· Changes in eating habits and weight

· Lack of concentration

· Feeling lethargic

· Presence of suicidal thoughts or thoughts of death

· No longer interested in things that used to bring joy

· Low self-esteem

· No longer wanting to participate in school activities

· A decline in interest in school or friendships

· Substance abuse (especially with teens)

· Stomach aches or headaches (especially in children)

The AACAP also states that the cause of depression is not always known. Sometimes depression can run in families. Sometimes it can be the result of bullying or spending too much time on social media, which can often result in feelings of inadequacy. Other issues such as learning disabilities, behavior problems, attention problems, or anxiety disorders can put a child at high risk for depression. It is very important for parents to look out for any signs of depression in their child. Don’t be afraid to ask your child how he is feeling or if anything is bothering him, especially if you suspect he might be depressed. A teen may make extreme statements like “I just want to disappear and die” or “I hate my life, I want to kill myself”. Never assume your child or teen is being overly dramatic. According to the AACAP, children and teens are at an increased risk for suicide.

Help is available for your child. Do not be afraid to reach out. If you suspect your child is depressed, reach out to his pediatrician, school counselor, or qualified professional counselor like the counselors at eSupport Counseling. Our counselors are trained to listen to your unique needs and help develop a treatment plan that works for you or your teen. #esupportcounseling #counselorshelp #teendepression #teenissues #myteenneedshelp #parentinghelp

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