Press On!

Posted by The MindScape Team on 2/15/2023

Press On

Let’s agree on one thing; parenting is REALLY hard some days. Whether we’ve chosen to raise our teens as our parents raised us, or we’ve taken a “different” approach, like our parents before us, we must remember our teenagers are growing up in a different world than we did.  

Sure, the same issues, such as peer pressure, academic expectations, and trying to fit in, can be A LOT for our teens to handle while navigating this rapidly changing world. For some, the lows are temporary, but for others, the lows are ongoing and more serious, which may be a sign of depression. Depression can interfere with relationships, the ability to attend school, and complete schoolwork, which over time, can manifest internally and impact all aspects of one’s life.   

When it comes to teens, it isn’t always easy to differentiate between normal growing pains and depression. To help you recognize some of the signs of depression, we’ve composed a list and some helpful strategies to help lower your teen’s stress, find their footing, and build confidence.  

Press On Quote
Lack of Interest
As parents, we might wonder if a lack of interest in a previously enjoyed activity (like sports or hobbies) is a typical teenage response to growing up or if their loss of interest and lack of motivation is a sign of something more serious. I don’t want to pry, but I want to know more. Should I encourage my teen to stay involved or push them to try something new altogether?  

Strategy: Give your teen a little space, but monitor the situation. Find moments to check in and listen to how they are feeling. It may take a few attempts, but an open, honest conversation shows them you care and can make all the difference. Make it a routine, and pick a time to check in each week. 

Fatigue & Sleep Problems
Part of the reason teens stop doing what they enjoy is that they’re tired from a lack of sleep. When they were younger, you likely established a routine for them. Now they’re setting their own routine, getting home late from sports and activities before they eat, do their homework, and go to sleep. Or they may be up early in the morning trying to complete their schoolwork. As a result, they may feel overwhelmed and fatigued. But if your teen has these feelings and is sleeping to avoid the day and escape their responsibilities, this is a common sign of depression, not a lack of sleep.  

Strategy: Make time to connect with them, and as a family, practice self-care by establishing an after school/work and sleep routine that supports everyone’s changing schedules. Monitor your teen’s extracurricular activities and make suggestions to cut back when they seem to be over committed.   

Social Withdrawal
Typically, teens want to have friends and connect with other like-minded individuals who understand and appreciate them. But when they withdraw from the people they enjoy being with, it is a red flag and a common sign of depression.  

Strategy: You want to know why your teen is withdrawing. Did something happen? Is there a shift in their friend group? Or are they pulling away only to gravitate to new people? Keep the lines of communication open, even if your teen withdraws. Talk with them about how they’re feeling and help them understand why it’s important to keep peer relationships open and why you are concerned.   

Shifting Emotions
It’s typical for teens to have mood swings, an outburst of anger one minute and seeming happy and cheerful the next. If you notice these shifts without a precedent event, and a decreased mood for an extended period of time, there may be more going on. If their mood is persistently negative or they seem emotionally overwhelmed, you want to know if their mood is appropriate or if this is a sign of something more significant at play for your teen.   

Strategy: Avoid telling them what to do. Instead, listen closely and try to help them navigate their feelings. You may discover more about the issues causing their shifting emotions by lending an ear and offering support. You do not need to fix how they are feeling, but let them know you are there for them.   

Recognizing the signs of depression is vital to getting your teen the right help. If you notice any of these signs, please contact your teen’s counselor or primary care physician. Talking with someone who can help your teen realize that “the current situation is not the final destination” will help them Press On!