If you've ever suffered through a bout of depression, or deal with chronic depression, you probably know firsthand just how hard it can be to manage. You're also probably aware that it may be hard for other people in your life to recognize that you're struggling - we can be very good at masking what's going on in our lives when we need to be. But depression is common, and many people deal with it at least once or twice in their lives. Even teens! Maybe especially teens, who're going through some pretty major emotional and social ups and downs. Parents of teens may believe that they would know if something was amiss with their child, but a new survey reveals that many parents have a hard time recognizing the signs of teen depression.
The nationwide poll was conducted by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan. 819 parents responded to the poll, which asked questions about their ability to identify the signs of depression in their tweens and teens. 48% of parents responded that they felt somewhat confident in their ability to recognize teen depression. But two-thirds of respondents also said that there were factors that made it more difficult for them to be able to tell the difference between teen depression and normal teenage behavior.
For example, 30% of parents reported that their kids were good at hiding their feelings or masking symptoms of depression. 40% of parents found it hard to differentiate between normal teen mood swings and signs of depression. Tween and teen years can be hard, filled with dramatic highs and lows that are part of their healthy development. But many symptoms of teen depression can mimic those types of mood swings or bouts of angst. Plus, there are so many hormonal changes happening, too. Signs of teen depression can include changes in their eating or sleeping habits, physical ailments like headaches that don't respond to treatment, loss of interest in things they used to enjoy, and isolating themselves from friends and family.
Recognizing the signs of teen depression is so incredibly important. The recent rise of suicide among youth in this country shows that it should be every parent's priority to be on top of how their teens are feeling. If you're concerned that your teen is suffering from depression, don't be afraid to talk to them about it, or enlist the help of a mental health professional. There is help out there - they can connect with a counselor at school, a medical professional, or a support group for teens.