Teenage angst can only go on for so long. For many parents, it’s difficult to figure out whether your teen’s behavior is due to something much more serious and long-term — like depression. Recognizing signs of depression in teens can be hard, but they may be more noticeable than you think.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, around 2.3 million US teens aged 12 to 17 had at least one major depressive episode in 2017. Of that number, only 19.6% received professional help. This doesn’t mean you should try to self-diagnose your teen as depressed, but to be mindful and look out for the signs. Understanding what these signs may look like, and seeking out the reasons behind teenage depression can enable you to help them even further.
Here are the top signs according to experts.
1. Drop in School Performance
If your teen is usually the type to excel in academics and is suddenly getting several letter grades below their usual, getting calls home, and so on, it’s time for a conversation. A sudden drop in school performance can be one of the many signs of depression in teens.
Depression can generate apathy for teens, causing them to lose interest in aspects of their daily routine, including school. However, do be wary of other possible causes behind the drop in school performance, like an undiagnosed learning disability or a bullying issue at school. Or, school itself can be the cause of teen depression.
Possible Cause: School Stress
As your child gets older, the likelihood of them facing stress from school increases. It may not even be coming from the expectations you place on them, but the expectations they place on themselves, comparisons to their peers, and their focus on success.
Teens can often tie their idea of self-worth to their academic performance, so when they do catch themselves performing poorly, they feel bad about themselves. Even if they are excelling academically, their focus on grades can be a great contributing factor to anxiety and depression.