Is My Teenager Depressed or Is It a Phase?

Is My Teenager Depressed or Is It a Phase?

During adolescence, the brain chemistry changes causing differences in teen’s behavior, like being moody and taking risks, which may lead you to wonder, “Is my teenager depressed?” Teens also often face big stressors related to academic, peer, and family changes. Behavior changes often cause parents to worry if their teenagers are just going through a phase or if something more serious, like teenage depression, is going on.

Depression is more than being sad—it’s a chemical imbalance that can cause serious behavioral changes. While depression is common, it should not be ignored or disregarded, and parents should seek help immediately.

How Can I Tell If My Teen’s Behavior is Related to Depression or Just Moodiness?

If your teen is irritable, agitated, or angry on occasion, there is probably nothing to worry about. However there are some key points you may want to observe. For example, pay attention to how long your teenager’s irritability or sadness lasts. If you notice your teen feeling depressed for more than a couple of weeks and those feelings are affecting their daily activities, your child may be suffering from depression.

If you’re still not sure what to make of your teen’s moods, here is a list of symptoms can help. Teens that have one or more of the symptoms listed below, may need an evaluation for depression:

  • Excessive crying
  • Withdrawing from social activities
  • Academic performance declines
  • Drastic change in sleeping or eating habits
  • Lazy, unmotivated, tired
  • Aches and pains
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Talking about feeling worthless or hopeless about their future
  • Chronic irritability and easily becomes angry

How to Talk to Your Teen about Depression

Bringing up the topic of depression with your teenager will probably be a bit uncomfortable at first. Find some time in the day to connect and chat about anything at all. Be gentle in your approach to talking about depression, but also be persistent. Avoid trying to push them too much if they are not willing to talk about their feelings. It’s important to acknowledge your teen’s feelings and don’t minimize them. What they are feeling is real.

If you feel that your teen or child is in danger you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or talk to your child’s pediatrician. You can also contact the San Diego Crisis Line at 1-888-724-7240. When in doubt or if you have any questions about your child’s safety or the safety of those around them, immediately ask your child’s medical doctor or seek support from a mental health professional.

The good news about depression is that it can be diagnosed by a licensed professional and there are many options for getting help. You’ll be glad to learn that there are many different types of treatment available for depression, and they work. Some of the most effective treatments for depression are individual and/or family therapy with a licensed mental health professional, medication, and lifestyle changes that encourage healthy routines (e.g., diet, exercise).

Contact us today if you would like to learn more about our approach for therapy when working with teens with depression. We can help you answer the question, “Is My Teenager Depressed or Is It a Phase?” Our therapists offer support for families in Carlsbad, San Diego, Encinitas, San Marcos, Rancho Santa Fe, Vista, and surrounding areas in San Diego County.

teenager depressed

About Susan Gehrig, PhD

Susan Gehrig, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and founder of Paradox Psychological Services located in Carlsbad. She has a passion for supporting the wellbeing of children and teens. Her expertise is in child mindfulness and self-compassion, cognitive behavioral therapy, and child development. Dr. Gehrig provides psychoeducational testing and therapy services to help build a plan for success. Paradox provides services for families of San Diego North County and greater areas.

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