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Teen Depression: Tips For Catching Warning Signs
Dr. Dale V. Atkins, March 2009

Because teens are not quite children and not quite adults, they can often feel isolated and powerless in a world that wants them to grow up and excel but does so by giving them mixed signals. All of these pressures, along with the normal physical and emotional changes of adolescence, cause many teens to experience depression and turn to drugs or engage in other forms of behavior that usually have a negative impact on them and their sense of selves.

As adults in our children's lives we need to look for early warning signs and intervene compassionately, responding with appropriate concern and action. These are some warning signs when teens become depressed:

Radical and Otherwise Unexplained Personality / Mood Changes

Consistently Sleeping More or Less than Usual

Withdrawing From Family and Friends

Loss of Interest in Activities Formerly Enjoyed

Self-punishing Behaviors Such as Bingeing on Food, Starving (marked weight gain or loss), Self-mutilation

Overuse of Drugs, Alcohol

Overly Sexualized Behavior

Many of these signs or symptoms overlap. If you are seeing a cluster of signs, and they are more than just normal adolescence, arrange to have him/her seen by a professional. Spend a lot more time with your teen. It could be just sitting in her room and really listening or trying some new activity of his choosing together, whether or not you think you would enjoy it.

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