Advice for Parents - Understanding Teen Depression

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The transition from child to adulthood is a difficult time. Teenagers can be very vulnerable to depression. They have to try and deal with complex adult issues and emotions without any of the coping tools that comes with age and experience. This can then manifest itself in a number of negative behaviour such as anger and irritability.

Dealing with Teenagers

Living with teenagers can be very difficult for parents and other family members. Many of the negative feelings will be directed at authority figures and this makes it hard for you to reach out to them. Attempts to help teenagers can often be rebuffed and can escalate bad behaviour. They have yet to develop the coping tools they need to understand their own feelings and also how to interact with others as an adult and not a child. There is lots of advice for parents on teenage depression available both online and through local support groups.

Spotting the Signs of Depression

Some teenagers can get so overwhelmed by puberty and adulthood that they suffer from depression. As a parent it is important to understand how to spot depression from typical teenager behaviour. Teenager depression can be very serious and many young adults can get to the point where they no longer feel able to cope. This can lead to serious problems such as self harming, destructive behaviour and even suicidal thoughts. Here is some useful advice for parents on the common warning signs of depression:


Persistent sadness, irritability, moodiness and anger.
Noticeable changes in eating habits, weight and sleep patterns
Loss of interest in activities and hobbies that were once enjoyed
Significant lack of self confidence and feelings of worthlessness.
Frequent and unexplained stomach pains, muscle aches and headaches.
Withdrawal from family and friends
Poor performance at school and truancy.
Difficulty concentrating and extreme tiredness.
Alcohol and drug abuse
Substance Abuse

Many adults turn to alcohol and drugs to help them cope with difficult problems in their lives. Teenagers are particular vulnerable to this form of self medication because they do not have the same coping tools as adults. If your teen is exhibiting signs of substance abuse then this may well be a cry for help and not just bad behaviour. They may be suffering from teen depression and need extra support to help them deal with their overwhelming feelings.

Dealing with Depression

The most important way to deal with teenage depression is communication. Try to talk to teenagers using neutral, non-aggressive terms so they donít feel threatened or pressured by you. Open a dialogue on the subject and ask them to come to you if they want some help. Encourage them to talk to another responsible adult if they do not feel comfortable discussing the issue with you or other family members. There is plenty of professional advice for parents available to help families deal with teenage depression so donít be afraid to get some outside help if you need it.


Dealing with teenagers can be difficult but you to need understand the signs of teenage depression so that you can tackle it early on. Relate can provide additional expert advice for parents and families trying to cope with teenage behaviour and depressions.

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