Simon Says is Hampshire’s Child Bereavement Support Charity, helping children to re-adjust to life after the death of someone important in their lives. Depression can play a part in that re-adjustment.
Research suggests that just under 62K teenagers aged 11-16 year-olds are seriously depressed in the UK and this figure is sadly on the increase. Most parents expect their teenagers to be moody, uncommunicative and spend hours in a darkened room with laptops and phones emerging periodically for food.
However, when should parents pick up on the warning signs that things have moved on from this stereotypical behaviour to teenage depression, anxiety and other mental health problems.
Mental health professionals recently listed these top 10 top behaviours that teenagers are expected to display if they are suffering from depression, warning parents to put them on their radar.
1. Shunning social contact and not enjoying the things they used to
2. Losing their appetite
3. Finding it hard to concentrate
4. Complaining of stomach aches
5. Feeling exhausted and having difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
6. Low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence
7. Gaining or losing a significant amount of weight
8. Refusing to go to school or college, or playing truant
9. Tearfulness and extreme moodiness
10. Defiant, violent or disruptive behaviour at home or school
These symptoms should not be left untreated, and you are advised to seek professional help as soon as possible. As a parent, not being able to reach your child when they appear to be so vulnerable can be very distressing, mental health experts say “parents can you help!”
1. Gently communicate, be open, be there to chat but don’t push.
2. Get them to write it down, start by leaving them an encouraging note somewhere they will find it.
3. Encourage them to exercise, exercise releases mood-enhancing chemicals, even just ask them to walk to get a pint of milk from the local shop.
4. Impose a routine, depression hates routine, teenagers will welcome the structure.
5. Encourage healthy eating, good fuel feeds the brain and helps overcome mental stress
Finally, the Mental Health Profession say parents need to remember to look after themselves, the powerful emotions teenagers display can be extremely stressful to family life, talk to people around you, with 1 in 10 children suffering from depression, and it’s very likely you could find support from your current friendship group.