Saturday, November 04, 2006

Is Your Teenager Suffering From Depression? Clues Every Caring Parent Should Watch For! - A. Graham Smith

Does your teenage child spend a good portion of their days lolling around doing very
little constructive? Do they suffer from innumerable minor ailments - maybe
headaches, stomach aches, feeling sick? Do they stay up way into the wee-small-
hours of the morning watching late night (or should that be early morning) TV, or
maybe playing video games, or endlessly 'chatting' via the Internet with person or
persons unknown? Do they seem to resent being asked almost anything about their
lives, and do they usually react with an odd grunt, and rarely as much as two

If you can see a likeness to your own teenage child or children in some of these
descriptions, perhaps you are thinking: "Yes, but so what?" Perhaps you have
assumed - as many parents might - "That's just being a teenager! They're all like that
aren't they?"

Well, to be honest the answer is "No". Not all teens are like that. It may be true that at
some time or other all teenagers wrestle with the challenges of things like hormones,
spots, first love, social acceptance, and all the other stuff that suddenly seems so
important during those transitional years between childhood and becoming an adult. It
may also be true that these issues could lead many teens to become surly, sullen and
uncommunicative from time to time for short spells. But, you do need to take stock,
for if your teen is like this nearly all the time...then you should take a little time out to
do some 'discreet' deeper investigation.

Why? Because your teenage offspring might be suffering from depression. It is a sad
fact that the combination of common stressors that can arise in today's society can
compound themselves in a way that sends some youngsters spiralling down into a first
major period of depression, which they almost certainly find difficult to cope
with. Some such teenagers can turn to trying to alleviate their plight by abusing drugs
or alcohol. Admittedly rare, but in extreme cases depression can lead to unpleasant
self-harming activities, or possibly attempted suicide. Every year there are devastated
families whose teenage child made the ultimate 'cry for help' that a suicide attempt is
judged to be - and sometimes that 'cry' does indeed have fatal consequences.

It is unlikely that most teenagers, themselves, will actually recognize that they
are depressed. They may well feel isolated, cut-off from being able to talk to you or
their friends, lacking in any feeling of motivation or enjoyment of life. They may drift
away from long-term friendships - sudden 'spats' and arguments might occur and this
could all be part of a downward spiral. You may even become aware that they are
increasingly finding excuses to miss a day of school here or there. All these are possible symptoms
of depression and should be seen as 'amber lights' warning you to beware that all may not be well.

We, none of us, want to be an over-concerned parent over-reacting every time we
have the slightest inkling that something may not be right. But equally we don't want
to 'plough-on' regardless, ignoring what may be happening to our children, blissfully
unaware that they could have a real, major problem brewing.

Common wisdom and media influence, even including TV comedies, have led us to expect that
teens will be difficult to deal with. They may seem to inhabit a world of their own into
which an adult parent dare not stray - without the risk of being strafed by some
carping comments, accusations of never leaving them alone, or maybe even greater
tantrums. Nonetheless today's parents should have enough understanding of basic
psychology to be able to pick-up on whether there is really something going on in
their teenager's life that requires them to 'be there' for their growing child, even if the
going gets a little rough.

Both teenage, and even childhood depression have been shown to be on the increase,
particularly in developed Western societies like the US, UK and Northern Europe. It
is important that as a responsible and caring parent you put some homework in to
familiarizing yourself with those signs and sypmtoms that could indicate that your almost-adult-
child is suffering from more that just the occasional ups-and-downs of normal teenage

A Graham Smith - 15 years lecturing, tutoring and acting as a student counsellor and mentor, plus 30 years experience of depression as both a carer and sufferer, now publishes a web-based guide to dealing with depression a resource that looks at the positive side of depression and how it can help you change your life for the better. contains useful articles, information and links plus much more
about spotting the signs and symptoms of Teenage Depression.

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