I often have parents ask me what warning signs they need to watch for in their teenagers that may indicate their teen is depressed. I recently ready an article by Dr. Jerome Yelder, Sr. He did a very good job of breaking down the basic symptoms adults and teens experience when they are depressed. I have included the list for parents below so they know what to watch for in their teenagers.
Depression can affect your body as well as your mind. Trouble falling or staying asleep is common in people who are depressed. But some may find that they get too much shut-eye.
It can be a sign of heart, lung, or stomach problems, so see your doctor to rule out those causes. Sometimes, though, it’s a symptom of depression.
Depression can also raise your risk of heart disease. Plus, people who’ve had heart attacks are more likely to be depressed.
Fatigue and Exhaustion
If you feel so tired that you don’t have energy for everyday tasks — even when you sleep or rest a lot — it may be a sign that you’re depressed. Depression and fatigue together tend to make both conditions seem worse.
Aching Muscles and Joints
When you live with ongoing pain it can raise your risk of depression.
Depression may also lead to pain because the two conditions share chemical messengers in the brain. People who are depressed are three times as likely to get regular pain.
Our brains and digestive systems are strongly connected, which is why many of us get stomachaches or nausea when we’re stressed or worried. Depression can get you in your gut too — causing nausea, indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation.
One study shows that people with major depression are three times more likely to have migraines, and people with migraines are five times more likely to get depressed.
Changes in Appetite or Weight
Some people feel less hungry when they get depressed. Others can’t stop eating. The result can be weight gain or loss, along with lack of energy. Depression has been linked to eating disorders like bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating.
When it hurts you there on a regular basis, it may contribute to depression. And people who are depressed may be four times more likely to get intense, disabling neck or back pain.
Agitated and Restless
Sleep problems or other depression symptoms can make you feel this way. Men are more likely than women to be irritable when they’re depressed.
Hopefully your teenager is not sexually active. While they may not have the sexual problems adults do, when they are depressed, they may show a lack of interest in dating or relationships and tend to isolate. They also may feel they are sexually unattractive.
If you’re depressed, you might lose your interest in sex. Some prescription drugs that treat depression can also take away your drive and affect performance. Talk to your doctor about your medicine options.
Research suggests that if you do it regularly, it releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good, improve your mood, and reduce your sensitivity to pain. Although physical activity alone won’t cure depression, it can help ease it over the long term. If you’re depressed, it can sometimes be hard to get the energy to exercise. But try to remember that it can ease fatigue and help you sleep better.
Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating teenagers and children. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work and private practice visit his website www.RubinoCounseling.com or on Twitter @RubinoTherapy