How do parents know if their child’s sadness is a part of regular growing up or a sign of something more serious? I think we all know what it is like to feel down sometimes. Well teenagers have their ups and downs too and every parent thinks that it could be a problem at school, a boyfriend or girlfriend issue, a family problem or even the death of a grandparent, which is acceptable. But if it continues for over two weeks, most parents realize that it needs to be looked into.
I only heard about this when we were in the ‘mental illness’ cycle. Apparently, many young people experience real depression and anxiety disorders at some time or another. If they are simply going through a difficult time, it will no doubt pass but if this period does not pass, it should not be neglected. By listening to parents speaking, we learned about some warning signs.
If a teenager becomes aggressive suddenly and provokes fights; if he has such bad anxiety attacks that he has difficulty breathing; if he/she is unable to make simple decisions and there is a change in his/her concentration levels, it needs to be checked out. If there is a change in his/her eating habits; complaints of stomach pains and headaches; a sudden weight loss or complaints of being worthless, he/she needs help. If that teenager’s sleeping patterns change and he/she withdraws from a previously active social life, it is advisable to seek help.
I was told that if the problem is dealt with as soon as possible, it is not too late to be of help. Of course that teenager could be taking drugs which is a different issue altogether that needs to be checked out.
From my experience of running a support group, depression can make one feel pretty desperate.