Depression is one of the most common mental health issues in teens and is on the rise. The recently published 2022 State Of Mental Health In America Report released some critical data on the subject.

 Did you know, for example, that 15.08% of youth experienced a major depressive episode last year? Unfortunately, it is chronically underdiagnosed, with 1 out of 3 young people going without treatment even in the states with the most access to mental health resources.

Parents are the most likely to identify when their teens are depressed, but it can be tricky. Many parents initially chalk up a change in their teen’s behavior to hormones, mood swings, or just plain angst.

But, what are the warning signs that my child could be depressed?

Some signs are more evident than others; here are some common warning flags that will tell you when to reach out and get some support for your teen.

Signs of Teenage Depression:

  • Irritability/hostility
  • Sleeplessness OR sleeping too much
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • No longer participating in activities, they used to enjoy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Declining grades
  • Talk of death/suicide
  • Signs of self-harm

I’ve noticed some of these in my teen; what should I do?

If you think that your child might be depressed, it’s vital to make an appointment for an evaluation with their doctor. Only medical professionals should make a clinical diagnosis. However, there are other things you can do once you’ve scheduled the appointment.

Go Straight to the Source

Talk to your teen. They are parts of their lives that you may know little about, and being accessible is an essential first step. They need to know you care and that you take their problems seriously. It might seem like a small thing to you, but it’s a massive deal to them.

If they won’t talk to you, encourage them to speak to someone they trust. You may find this challenging or frustrating because you want your child to open up to you, but the important thing is that they share their burden with someone.

Time for Straight Talk

Your teen looks to you for guidance and observes your reaction. If they are diagnosed with depression, help them understand this diagnosis as any other type of illness.

“Comparing depression to another medical illness that your child is familiar with may help them to frame depression as an illness and better understand their symptoms, the importance of treatment, and that they shouldn’t feel alone or abnormal.”

Explain the treatment to them and the timeline. Talk to your teen about therapy as an essential part of a treatment plan and the implications of any possible side effects of prescribed medication.

Stand by Your Teen

Support your teen and encourage both your relationship and their relationships with other trusted friends.

Remain open and calm, no matter what your child shares with you. They need someone to trust, who makes them feel safe and loved, so let them know they aren’t alone.