Whether it is due to increased pressures throughout teenage years or an open dialogue becoming more accepted, the rates of depression in adolescents have skyrocketed as of late. While any level of depression can have negative effects, the most dangerous outcome is attempted suicide.
Just in 2013, an estimated 2.6 million adolescents between the ages of 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This represented a shocking 10.7% of the entire U.S. population of that age group. Overall, depression increases a teen’s risk of attempting suicide by up to 12 times.
Unfortunately, it’s very difficult for younger people to admit and seek help for depression, making it utterly important for parents and adults to be aware of any telltale signs. But what indicators could signal these problems? Here are a few signs of abnormal teenage behavior to keep an eye out for.
- Avoiding school: Adolescence is a very difficult time for most people, especially when surrounded by those who may have either caused or exacerbated the situation. School is unfortunately one of the most common areas to raise co-occurring anxiety and depression in teens.Even though high school violence has declined in recent years, bullying behaviors, such as verbal abuse, have increased by up to 5%. If an adolescent often seems to be faking sick to stay out of school, or comes home in a quiet or despondent state, it can be a strong indicator of negative experiences during the school day.
- Withdrawal: Social withdrawal is another powerful indicator of anxiety and depression in teens. They may begin to cut out friends or drastically decrease communication and interactions with family. While some kids may just enjoy some solitude in which to relax, if a teen is spending an abnormal amount of time locked away by themselves it is worth discussing the possibility of depression with them.
- Changes in daily habits: In particular, changes in eating and sleeping habits can indicate teenage depression. This includes rapid weight-loss and irritability. To make matters worse, insufficient sleep and nutrition can even further affect their mental state.
Understanding teenagers is a feat for any adult. But staying aware of any signs of anxiety and depression in teens can protect their future and even save their lives.