Depression in Adolescents 26

We can find a lot of information on Depression and Stress but less specifically on how Depression manifests itself in teenagers.

I am writing this article with a view to helping others not to confuse the often, similar symptoms of being Depressed with simply being a Teenager.

Some kids seem to go through their teenage years with a few pimples, oily hair and the odd argument with parents, a small amount of rebellion but nothing too drastic.

Others however seem to develop almost overnight into a bundle of nerves, irritable beyond belief and very, very angry!

It is this point that I believe that can throw one off the scent.  I can reel off the symptoms of depression and yet anger is the one area that I feel differentiates Depression in teenagers from adults more markedly.

I think adults become more withdrawn and sad but some (not to generalise) teenagers just erupt -at their parents, their siblings, their friends even, the world in general.

The teenage years are predominated by a lot of social pressure to find a niche – be more responsible and start being independent. There is a constant push/pull between wanting to be more adult and in charge of their own lives versus not always having the skills to do this or the freedom. (in the case of domineering or over protective parents).  The ensuing mis-match understandably causes tension and anxiety, perhaps even a lack of self -belief.

Throw in the pressure presented through social media and ‘ideal’ photos of how one should aspire to look and behave and it could all seem very overwhelming.

The sex hormones testosterone and oestrogen are in over drive and these hormones have a huge impact on formulating the emotional centres of the brain. This too is a very important point to note- the teenage brain is growing and developing in an emotional capacity not just in terms of studying for the Bac or A levels.

So I guess my point is,if your teenage son or daughter shows dramatic mood swings which seem out of proportion to the trigger. Inability to regulate their own reactions, uncontrollable frequent crying or angry outbursts for a prolonged period , think about looking a little deeper. It could be that the teenage symptoms are masking  anxiety and/or despression .

Try not to get too angry back as many comments are aimed for maximum damage and are not truly meant. I think as a parent of a teenager it is important to grow a thick skin, try not to be as volatile back but listen instead.

Anger is often the way to express fear and confusion. 

Their feelings and reactions may seem foreign to you but they need to be heard. One of the greatest needs of this age- group, I believe , is to have a voice that is acknowledged- to not feel invisible.

I am not trying  to suggest that I am some expert in this field rather a mum who has learned the hard way how not to communicate!


Pick your battles

Suggest healthy lifestyle choices ( see the link below)

Try and laugh together

Be there for when your teenage child needs you – it is especially hard for them to show their vulnerability and insecurity to you as parents because  they spend so much time trying to show you and others that they don’t need you!

For further information on teenage mood swings and sound advice see:

 Stephanie Woollacott