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Feeling Blue?  Teen Depression

Everyone feels down sometimes, or has a bad day.  Teens are especially notorious for their moodiness.  However, if your teen is exhibiting more than one of the following behaviors for more than a week, it may be time to take action.

  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns.
  • Withdrawal from friends and family.
  • Dropping out of regular activities. 
  • Violent and rebellious behavior, especially if his rage is targeted against adults or authority figures.
  • Running away. 
  • Drug and alcohol use.
  • Personal hygiene  
  • Neglect of personal appearance. 
  • Changes in personality. 
  • Ongoing problems with boredom or difficulty concentrating.
  • Decline in the quality of schoolwork.    
  • Physical symptoms such as unexplained headaches, stomachaches, and fatigue.

So what should you do to help your teen cope with depression?  The first step is to talk to them and see if they will open up about what's bothering them.  Start by asking them about something innocuous like how is school going.  Then move on to asking about their friends in a casual way, including any special friendships.  If this line of questioning fails to reveal anything, follow up with something direct but not confrontational, along the lines of, "You know, you've seemed a little down lately.  Is anything wrong?"

If there is a specific problem, work with them to create coping strategies.  For instance, if they're having a problem in school or with a sport, offer to get them some extra coaching in that area.  If the problem concerns there interpersonal relationships, encourage them to wait it out and assure them that things will get better.

On the other hand, if they are complaining about a general sense of ongoing sadness, your should probably make an appointment for them with your family doctor.  He will be able to access if they are suffering from normal teen blues or something more serious.

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