Parenting a teen can be a challenging mix of wanting to keep your child safe while giving them space to learn, grow and make mistakes. During the roller coaster of adolescence, you might wonder whether your son is experiencing typical teen ups and downs, or if his emotional challenges signify something more serious.
Though depression can occur at any age, the symptoms may manifest differently for teenagers. Knowing the warning signs of teen depression can help your family navigate adolescence and learn to manage any mental health issues that might arise.
How Can You Tell If Your Son Is Depressed?
Children and teens struggle with their mental health more frequently than you may realize. ADHD, anxiety, depression and behavioral issues often co-occur and cause adolescents to have trouble at school or home. These problems, which sometimes have a hereditary component, can also hinder young men’s ability to make friends and may impair their decision-making skills.
Don’t make the mistake of dismissing teen depression as a phase your son will eventually outgrow or overcome with enough willpower. It is a genuine health condition that can manifest in physical and mental symptoms.
Be on the lookout for warning signs like these:
- Unpredictable mood swings
- Loss of interest in hobbies, sports or other activities
- Sensitivity to failure and rejection
- Difficulties with concentration, memory or decision-making skills
- Sleeping or eating too much or too little
- Neglecting hygiene like showering or doing laundry
- Substance abuse or other risky behavior
- Self-harm, such as intentionally cutting or burning
- Frequent, unexplained aches and pains or digestive issues
- Withdrawing from friends and family
When to Seek Solutions
Even if you have a close relationship with your son, it can still be hard to distinguish depression symptoms from the rapid emotional and behavioral upheaval that characterizes the teen years. Mental health can be a tricky topic to broach with someone. If you’re worried that your teen might become angry or defensive, you could start by talking to his friends, teachers and coaches to see if they’ve noticed any of the warning signs of teen depression. You may also want to reach out to your family doctor or a therapist who specializes in working with adolescents.
Depression is a chronic mental illness that can become increasingly severe if left untreated. Adolescents dealing with the pain and hopelessness of teen depression may also begin self-medicating with drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism, eventually leading to a co-occurring substance use disorder.
Does Your Son Need Help Dealing With Teen Depression?
While it can be heartbreaking to see someone you love struggling with depression, accepting the reality of your situation is the first step to getting help and healing your family dynamic. At ARCH Academy, we have developed a residential treatment program specifically for young men between ages 14 and 17 that allows them to begin their recovery process without losing any of their academic progress.
We also offer experiential therapies such as a ropes course, hiking, rock climbing and community service. To learn more about the unique benefits of our recovery environment, please reach out to us today.