How to recognize teen depression
Dennis was always a happy kid. He was always laughing, playing, and was able to light up a room. Once he hit adolescents, things changed a bit. He was still happy when he was with his friends or interacting with others, but there seemed to be less energy behind it.
Over the last week or two, I have noticed that there seems to be gloom when I see my teen. He looks grumpy, tired, and sad. He even asked not to go to his last soccer practice. When I first began noticing these things, I thought it was just him being a hormonal teenager. After a week of this behavior, I began to believe that something may be wrong.
I knew that coming out and asking Dennis would be met with a shrug of his shoulders and a mumbled: “I am fine.” I initially decided on a less direct approach. I planned some fun activities for the upcoming weekend. I bought some movie tickets for the family and decided we would grab a pizza at his favorite place beforehand.
When Dennis came home, I excitedly told him about the plans. Dennis did not seem as excited and asked if we could stay in. I had not anticipated that response. His response scared me and made me realize that there may be something more serious going on.
I decided that I would need to talk to Dennis to find out what exactly was going on. I grabbed some snacks and a drink and headed up to his room. The door was opened, and he was laying on his bed doing something on his phone. I knocked and asked him if I could come in. He responded with a ‘yes”.
I sat down on the corner of his bed and told him that I was worried about him. As he started to respond with an “I am fine.” I stopped him. I pointed out all the behaviors that I had noticed over the last few weeks and then added that he has never turned down pizza and a movie.
Dennis didn’t say anything for a few minutes. Then he said I am just not feeling like myself. He said that he is always tired and feels like he is in a fog. He described feeling like he doesn’t want to do anything but sleep. I asked him how long that has been going on, and he responded that he had felt this way for weeks. He explained that it had started when he had switched classes for the new semester.
That jogged my memory a bit, and I remembered a conversation about his new classes and how none of his friends were in them.
We talked for quite some time about Dennis feeling depressed. I made sure to ask him if he was feeling hopeless or having any thoughts of wanting to hurt himself because I know that those would require some outside help. He assured me that he wasn’t, and I believed him.
I talked to him about making sure he was getting enough sleep, eating, and the importance of getting to soccer practice. We spoke of him inviting his friends over this coming weekend and the possibility of them going for pizza and a movie. Dennis seemed to like this idea and was able to send them all a message to start planning.
I know that teens can often present as despondent. I am glad that I noticed that there was something wrong before it got too serious. I hope that Dennis will start coming out of his depression, but I will be keeping a closer eye on him.