Depression and suicide in our teens are concerning. Understanding contributors to this are important. It is also imperative to know these signs. Often, symptoms get overlooked as they are not typical presenters associated with depression. Parents and caregivers being aware of these symptoms can help bring support to our teens and seek additional help when necessary (Morin, A, 2020). 

-One significant sign of depression in this age group is anger/irritability. This is more common than sadness. This can be a symptom in some teens, however, seeing irritability and sadness may be more common than sadness alone. It is important to consider how irritability manifests. If your teen is showing irritability occasionally, irritability upon waking but has a pleasant and upbeat mood for the rest of the day, or irritability is situational, this may common and not a symptom of depression. Irritability associated with depression is, usually, more constant. 

-While social withdrawal is common with depression in adults, teens may not, necessarily, withdraw.  They may avoid their usual friends and begin to connect with different peer groups termed as “the wrong crowd”.  I’ve always thought it was important to get acquainted with the parents of my kids’ friends. Even if the crowd changes, often getting familiar with the friend’s family, gives insight into who your child is associating with. For me, if parents were not willing to meet me, my children were not allowed to go to that child’s home at the least. 

-Changes in academics or involvement inactivity could change; grades could drop and interest in activities they once were interested in could also decrease. It is important to also know that some teens have a fear of failure and, thus, may become overachievers and grades may not drop in these situations and activity involvement may not change. Reminding our children of their importance and value outside of academic achievements and school activity achievement could take some of this pressure away. 

-Increased sensitivity to criticism is significant because, often, this connects to lower self-esteem. Some teens may be avoidant of participating in certain activities or social events or encounters because of fear of possible rejection.

As a child who dealt with depression, I certainly see where I have been in each of these spaces, and I do not think my parents took notice because changes were not commonly associated with depression. Knowing these signs, and the why behind these signs, can help us to be more empathetic and, thus, supportive to our youth. After all, support is the foundation of a strong community.

Morin, A (2020). How Teenage Depression Differs From Adult Depression.