The teenage years bring with them plenty of changes in a young person’s life, including physical, social, and emotional development and unique challenges.
These changes can’t be positive all the time and as a result, teenagers may frequently experience mood swings.
Feeling particularly moody and wanting time to oneself is normal, but is there a line?
When do typical teenage behaviors become a cause for concern?
If you’re concerned that your teenager might be depressed rather than just moody, it’s important to observe their behaviors for signs that help is needed.
Depression in Teenagers
Depression is not uncommon in teenagers.
In fact, roughly 9% of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 experience at least one serious depressive episode.
Depression differs from normal teenage moodiness lies in both the timeline of the mood swing and the impact it has on the rest of your child’s life.
If a mood swing lasts longer than two weeks and causes significant changes in your child’s behavior, it’s fair to wonder if depression is the underlying cause.
Some signs to look for in your teenager’s behavior include:
- Withdrawing from activities they usually enjoy
- Changes in appetite (eating more or less than usual)
- Sudden poor performance at school or activities
- Irritability or anger
- Heightened sensitivity to events that would not normally upset them
- Withdrawing from friends (spending more time alone)
- Sleep disturbances or sleeping too often
- And general, persistent feelings of sadness
As A Parent, What Can I Do?
If you notice some of the above-mentioned symptoms in your teenager, it’s a good idea to reach out to them.
Start by asking your teenager how they’re doing, if they’re okay, if they’d like to talk about their feelings.
Try to remain casual so that your teenager doesn’t feel like they’re being confronted.
You can speak to your teenager one-on-one or include the child’s second parent, close sibling, or friend.
Your child may not want to discuss their feelings with you when you ask, and that’s okay.
Your job is to help them realize that you’re available to talk when they’re ready and that you’re willing to listen without judgment.
Let your teenager know that you want to help them, but ultimately give them a choice when it comes to discussing their problems.
Helpful Home Habits
In addition to keeping the line of communication open between yourself and your teenager, do your best to encourage healthy behaviors in them.
Try to keep your home as stress-free as possible, so that your teenager has a place to decompress after stressful days at school.
If possible, supplement their mental health with a healthy diet, decent exercise, and an ideal sleep schedule.
It can be difficult to enforce these behaviors but making healthy options available can help alleviate some of the moodiness your teenager may be experiencing.
If Your Teenager’s Mood Isn’t Improving
After you have done everything in your power to help your teenager feel better, he or she may not seem like they’re recovering.
Understandably, you’re probably becoming worried about your teen’s wellbeing.
You want your teenager to be happy, but unfortunately, you cannot force them to get better through support alone.
If weeks have passed and your teenager seems to be in a constant haze of sadness, it might be time to seek professional help from a licensed mental health counselor.
Again, try not to approach the topic forcefully.
Inform your teenager that you’re concerned for them, and ask them if they would like to speak to a therapist.
What If He/She/They Refuse Help?
He or she may be hesitant to accept seeing a licensed therapist for a number of reasons.
For one, your teenager may feel that seeing a licensed therapist implies that there’s something “wrong” with them.
For this reason, it’s crucial to approach the topic of therapy with an open mind.
Bring up the topic of therapy as a perfectly normal option for your teen.
You could say, for example, “Maybe you would feel better discussing your feelings with someone who works with young people?”
You could also point out that a licensed therapist is an unbiased, confidential, third-party professional that your teenager can trust.
Teens may be reluctant to open up to people they’ve already got a relationship with out of fear of being judged or misunderstood.
If you explain that a therapist listens to people for a living, provides a totally neutral space, and has the skills to help them, your teenager be more willing to see a professional.
It’s worth stating that if your teenager agrees to see a licensed therapist, he or she is not going to be forced to discuss anything.
Therapy is not meant to be confrontational.
Sessions involve calmly and openly discussing one’s thoughts and feelings.
If you feel that your teenager is depressed, we welcome you to reach out to us.
Please contact our offices on your teen’s behalf, and we will do our best to help your teen work through his or her feelings.
We can set up a complimentary consult call so we can match your teen with the best therapist for their situation.