Depression isn’t just a phase. Depression isn’t uncommon. In fact, an estimated 2.8 million adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2014. Depression is a major mental health problem that 6-8% of all teens endure. Yet, 60% of youth with depression are not getting treatment. Why is that? It can best be explained by the pressure in society that teens feel to hold in their mental struggles.
Depression is one of the most pressing and common mental health issues for teens. However, hiding depression is many kid’s specialties, especially boys. Pediatrician Nerissa Bauer explains, “you can’t just look at a teenager and know he is depressed because boys especially can hide it well.” There is a stigma around being a male where you can’t share your feelings, be emotional, admit your struggles. This creates a higher rate of men who do not share their struggles with depression.
Suicide is the leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24 and 90% of those who have committed suicide struggle with mental health issues, especially depression. The American Foundation for Suicide reports that men are 3.53 times more likely to commit suicide than women.
With so many kids especially boys not sharing their feelings of depression or mental health struggles how can you as their parent tell if they are mentally okay? It is often hard to detect depression in a teen. Many teens have a bad day at school, a fight with a friend or other minor experiences that lead them to sadness. Yet, how can you really detect if your child is suffering from depression or just had a bad day?
- Look for isolation or change in behavior
- Keep a close look at your child’s social media accounts
- Heightened aggressive, or overreactions to small things
- A decline in academic excellence, check and see if your child’s grades are dropping
- Loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, or excessive sleeping
- Substance abuse
All of these signs do not necessarily mean your child is suffering from depression. Of course, many teenage children who do not suffer from depression have angst and are irritable. However, the behaviors on this list sometimes can be an indicator. If your child is displaying multiple changes that look like the ones above it may just mean you should check up on your child and keep a closer eye on their mental health.
Make sure your child knows you are there to listen, that there is no judgment against any mental health issues, and that you will support them in getting professional help if need be. Make sure they know that depression is not their fault and that there are ways to make them feel better.