If you’re reading this, then you might already be concerned about a teenager in your life. Though teenage years are often plagued with emotions, hormones, and major personality changes, it’s not uncommon to wonder if what you’re seeing is more serious than typical teenage struggles. Depression is common, but serious, and knowing how to identify it in your child is important. We’ve compiled a list of 5 early warning signs of depression to look out for, including sleep changes, social isolation, poor hygiene, loss of interest, and sensitivity to criticism. If you notice that your teen shows most or all of these signs, it might be time to have a talk with them about their experience and what they may be going through. If at any time, you are concerned about or there is mention of suicide or self-harm, seek medical help.
– Sleep Changes
Teenagers tend to sleep quite a bit, so this symptom alone is not necessarily cause for concern. However, if you notice that they are spending even more time in bed than usual, this could be a sign of depression.
– Social Isolation
If you notice that your teen is suddenly less interested in communicating with you, other family members, and (especially) friends, this is a sign of social isolation. Depression often leads people to want to be alone, either due to lack of energy or the perception that they themselves aren’t worth spending time with.
– Poor Hygiene
Much like the increased need for sleep, changes in body odor are common with teens. However, if you notice that your teen is putting less effort into their appearance, showering less often, and showing a general lack of care when it comes to hygiene, this can be an early sign of depression.
– Loss of Interest
If your teen is suddenly losing interest in some or all of their usual activities, this can be a cause for concern. Making rash decisions like quitting a sports team, breaking routines or traditions that they once loved, or showing a general disinterest in daily activities can all be early signs of depression.
– Extreme Sensitivity to Criticism
If you or someone else try to bring up any of the aforementioned signs, it’s important to watch your teen’s reaction. If you ask about their new sleep patterns, any signs of isolation or disinterest you’ve noticed, and they react with intense anger or defensiveness, this can be a sign of depression in itself. Oftentimes, sufferers of depression are very sensitive to anything that can be perceived as criticism. It’s important to broach these subjects with caution, compassion, and an open mind.
It’s important to remember that depression is treatable. Once identified, depression can be treated with a combination of therapy and, if desired, medication. However, there are ways to treat depression that do not involve pharmaceuticals. Along with an active lifestyle and healthy diet, methods such as magnetic therapy are proven to be effective.