The signs of teenage depression can often be mistaken for typical mood swings and ups and downs often associated with simply being a teenager. So, what's considered normal? Is a teenager who's on top of the world in one moment and then suffering from unexplained sadness the next normal or truly depressed?

If you're a parent of a child between the ages of 10 and 18, asking yourself that very question is critical. Depression can affect one in five teenagers before their 18th birthday. Unfortunately, the disease often goes undiagnosed because it's believed to be a normal part of life.

Understanding the Signs of Teenage Depression

While it's easy to dismiss the numerous symptoms of teenage depression as simply a phase of growing up, the problem can be compounded by teenagers who refuse to admit they're depressed.

There are numerous symptoms associated with teenage depression, and they often mimic depression symptoms in adults. These include chronic fatigue, trouble focusing on tasks, lack of concentration and irritability. As depression progresses, the teenager can become anxious and distracted as they attempt to deal with this debilitating problem. Other symptoms include crying, shouting, general complaining or lethargy.

As with adults, depression may also become visible in a variety of unexplained and incurable physical problems such as aches and pains, headaches and digestive issues like an upset stomach. Other signs include a change in appetite and subsequent weight gain or loss along with a change in sleeping habits, such as insomnia or chronic fatigue. More serious symptoms include talk or thoughts of suicide or death.

If five or more of the above symptoms are exhibited for a period longer than two weeks, mothers and/or fathers should talk to their teenagers and seek professional help. Of course, if there is a threat of suicide, then parents should seek treatment and intervention immediately.

Causes and Effects of Teenage Depression

Teenage depression is often caused by external stress-inducing circumstances. These may include a divorce in the family, an upset in the family dynamic, financial problems, sexual or physical abuse, alcohol or drug problems within the family, a death in the family or trouble dealing with a recent trauma or tragedy.

Other teenagers see depression as a result of being unable to reach particular goals, whether these are social, academic, athletics or body goals. For example, if a teenager has trouble making friends or is rejected by their peers, this can often cause depression. Or when depression runs in the family, the teenager may be genetically disposed to the condition.

The effects of teenage depression are most often seen socially and at school. Typically, a teenager exhibiting common symptoms sees their grades drop as they miss school, lose focus and abandon their drive to achieve and succeed. They may drop out of extracurricular activities and are also more prone to abuse drugs or alcohol.

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