How to Tell if your Child is Depressed.

Why do we, as adults, commonly tell kids that the teenage years are "the best years of your life!"? I can only assume that it is because our memories are going!! "Happiest years'? REALLY? Not only is this blatantly NOT true..... but it sets up a false expectation for our kids that leaves them feeling like they might be the only one feeling stressed, sad, angry, scared, anxious, etc.

We do little as a society to arm our children with words for the ways they are feeling....let alone tools for handling it. It never ceases to irk me that we have made gym classes mandatory from k-12 grade....as though PHYSICAL health was they only type of health that matters. What about EMOTIONAL health?

Isn't it possible that the increase in drug use, alcohol abuse and even obesity might have SOMETHING to do with the emotional stability of our kids??

Today, more than ever, kids are exposed to stress that they are ill prepared to handle and often, because the adults in their lives are more than likely also stressed-out, they have a hard time knowing how to identify it let alone who to go to.

The fact is....GROWING UP IS A HARD BUSINESS!! Negotiating the path from reliance on others to independence is fraught with difficulties. Adults need to realize that stress and depression may look different in teens but it is a very real and serious problem.

STRESS is characterized by feelings of tension, frustration, worry, sadness, and withdrawal that can last from hours, to days or even longer.

DEPRESSION is characterized by feelings of hopelessness, sadness, isolation, worry and irritability.

Some common causes of Stress and Depression as listed by teens:
1. Break-up with boy/girlfriend
2. Increased fighting with parents.
3. Negative change in parents' financial status.
4. Serious illness, injury or death of a loved one.
5. Problems with friends/peers.
6. Problems at school/with grades.

Even one of these stressors can cause a kid to experience pain....but parents should especially be on the look-out if a number of these stressors are building up.

If you start to notice that your child
1. Is isolating from family and friends.
2. Has impulsive behavior, obsessions or unreal fears.
3. Has aggressive or antisocial behavior.
4. Feels extreme pressure to perform/succeed.
5. Has difficulty sleeping/eating.
it is time to have someone evaluate them. It is hard for one person to see the "whole picture". We like to think that, as parents, our kids will come to us with problems or we will know when something is up. Too often, that simply isn't the case. It is common for teens to pull away from their parents as they attempt to navigate the waters of independence. It takes a loving and SMART parent to realize that it may be easier for your child to speak to a counselor than it is you....at first.
If you have any questions at all regarding this article, yourself or your teen....
Laura Rosenberg can be reached at 847-361-9147