Depression in children, especially teens, is unfortunately not uncommon. According to the Center for Disease Prevention & Control (CDC), roughly one in five adolescents may experience episodes of depression at some point. That is about 20%- not a number to be ignored!
Although some of us may have in mind a prototype of the depressed patient, in reality it can sometimes be difficult to tease apart the behaviors and emotions in front of us. Especially in such challenging times as these, many stressors are combining, and for some people it may combine to create “the perfect storm.” During the Covid-19 pandemic, all segments of the population have been affected in some way- whether elderly, middle-aged, or young adult. For your adolescent, stressors may be piling up higher than you realize. They may be suffering the loss of positive engagements such as: extra-curricular programs such as a sports team, music lessons, swimming league, or dance class; activities with friends such as shopping, a game of basketball, a walk in the park, or going out to ice cream; social events such as sports games, weekend parties, school activities, and weddings or birthday celebrations. At the same time, your teen may be faced with more intense challenges than ever before: friction with siblings, due to spending so much time with one another; a more difficult time with schoolwork, since it may be harder to focus in remote class sessions; feeling isolated or alone, especially if they aren’t on social media or don’t have much remote contact with peers; or on the flip side, a loss of privacy, since in a crowded household they’re likely to be overheard or barged in on.
With this in mind, it is important to keep an eye on your child and notice whether some red flags seem to be appearing.
Some of the symptoms of depression which we are all familiar with apply to teens as well:
- Low mood
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Feeling hopeless
- Loss of appetite/unexplained weight loss
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
- Difficulty sleeping
- Flat affect- seeming apathetic
Also important to note is that in adolescents, depressed mood may not present as “sad.” Instead, teens are more likely to become constantly irritable.
If you notice some of these symptoms occurring in your teen, it may be time to speak with a professional and seek help for him/her. Again, depression in teens is not very rare; there is no need for either you or your child to be ashamed- we are confident that things can improve for them! There is a lot we can do to help him get back to his best self!
As always, do not take the information here in place of a professional opinion. It is simply intended to help you keep your teen’s mental health in mind.