BEHIND THE CLOSED DOORS OF A TYPICAL TEEN OR IS IT
SERIOUS DEPRESSION? A H , T H E I N FA M O U S T E E N Y E A R S — most parents can relate to the eye-rolling, the
slammed doors, the omnipresent worry. After all, weren’t we warned about this stage of parenting? But what about when the slammed doors become isolate barriers and the once vivacious kids become quiet and withdrawn? How do you know if it is normal teen behavior or something more serious? The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines teen depression as “a serious mental health problem that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities. It affects how your teenager thinks, feels, and behaves; and it can cause emotional, functional, and physical problems.” It goes beyond just feeling sad or blue; lifestyles and behaviors are significantly altered. The important thing to remember is to never dismiss your parental instincts. If things seem out of the norm, talk to your teen. Depression is a brain illness, but it is treatable. How plugged in are you to your teen? Here are some factors and questions to consider: • According to the NIMH, girls are twice as likely as boys to experience depression. Self-image and rapidly changing bodies can be a lot to handle for young, underdeveloped brains.
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• Mood swings are typical during teen years (especially with hormonal and physical changes); but take notice if your child is sad, hopeless, angry, or frustrated on a daily basis.
• Pay attention to their activities and social life—have they lost interest? Would they rather stay locked up in their room than go out with friends? • Weight loss or weight gain can also be a sign of depression, if either is going in an extreme direction. • Is their affect slow? They may physically show signs of depression by moving and talking slowly.
• Too much sleep or insomnia can be a red flag. • Do they talk about feeling worthless or unattractive much of the time? • Do they have trouble concentrating or making decisions? Are their grades suffering? • Do they talk about violence or suicide?
If you suspect your teen is clinically depressed, contact your family physician. For more information on teen depression, contact the National Institute of Mental Health at www.nimh.nih.gov.
| JUNE 2016
June 2016 Lake Norman Woman Magazine