Change is a natural part of the teen years, but some changes are more serious than others. They may be warning signs of depression or even potential suicide.
If a teen shows signs of a serious problem, encourage him to get help. Warning signs include:
• Major changes in eating or sleeping habits.
• Severely violent or rebellious behavior.
• Withdrawal from family or friends.
• Running away.
• Persistent boredom or trouble concentrating.
• Unusual neglect of appearance.
• Radical personality change.
• Preoccupation with the theme of death.
• Giving away prized possessions, and
• Expressing suicidal thoughts, even jokingly.
Parents can help a depressed teen. First, listen. Don’t dismiss the problems as trivial. To him they matter a great deal.
Be honest. If you are worried about your teen, tell him. Professionals say you will not spark thoughts of suicide by asking about it.
Share your feelings. Let your teenager know she’s not alone. Everyone feels sad or depressed occasionally.
Get help. Find a physician, psychologist or qualified professional. Don’t wait for it to “go away.” Simple depression can escalate to the point that the teen may think of suicide as the only way out.
If you see signs of depression, take them seriously. You could be saving a life.