The teen years can be an emotionally unsettling time for some teens and a joyous time for others. But even for the most jovial adolescent there are always ups and downs. What may seem great today, can feel most tragic tomorrow. This is average teen behavior and not a sign of depression.
However, there are several types of teen depression, and it can help parents to be aware of them and their symptoms. It is estimated that about one in eight teenagers can suffer from depression.
Signs of Teen Depression
It is always important to watch out for any signs or symptoms of depression in your teenager.
Withdrawal from family and friends
Losing interest in social activities
A marked lack of energy
Intense feelings of sadness
Significant weight loss or gain
Sleep problems such as insomnia or excessive sleeping
Physical issues - pains or illnesses when physicians report nothing wrong
It is also important to remember that some of these behaviors and feelings are common to teenagers in general. Anger, sadness, weight loss or gain and some physical pains can all be a part of the growing process. But if they continue for protracted periods of time or the symptoms are particularly severe then there may be something else more harmful going on.
Keeping an eye out for common signs and knowing specifics of the types of teen depression will allow you to seek professional help when it’s needed.
Types of Teen Depression
Some common types of teen depression are:
- Bipolar Depression
The main distinguishing characteristics of bipolar disorder are the manic episodes that come with it. Since bipolar disorder most often has its onset during teen years this can certainly be an issue to keep an eye on. If a teen is displaying wild mood swings, or manic episodes of happiness followed by the staggering lows of depression, it may be time to get them to a professional. Most people who suffer bipolar disorder are prone to patterns in their manic and depressive stages. However, with teens this is not always possible to judge due to the reactive and impulsive natures common to their age group.
- Dysthymic Depression
A dysthymic disorder is characterized by long term chronic depression, but with slightly less severity then major depression. The main symptom for this form of depression is a daily depressed mood lasting for more than a year (2 years in adults). Sleep or appetite changes as well as low energy may also be signs of dysthymic depression. A person with this type of depression may report being unable to recall how they felt before they became depressed.
- Major Depression
This is one of the most severe types of teen depression as well as the most frightening for the sufferer or the parent. In a major depression many of the signs of depression are present and are usually more severe or intense. This type of teen depression can come from a singular traumatic event, or it can develop slowly over a period of time from repeated disappointments and rejections perceived by the sufferer.
Because of their impulsive characteristics and lack of impulse control teenagers are often high on the list of statistics for suicides. Their already sometimes erratic natures can make this a confusing time for parents. Be sure to consult a professional immediately if you see signs that may indicate extreme depression or suicidal thoughts.
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