If you have a young adult under your roof, you’re probably familiar with moodiness, vague responses when trying to engage in conversation, sleeping late into the day, and using their mobile devices as an extension of their arms over time with family.
It’s not unusual to see this with most teens but these behaviors can also point to depression. According to Psychiatry.org, depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable.
Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at work and at home.
Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., inability to sit still, pacing, hand-wringing) or slowed movements or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Symptoms must last at least two weeks and must represent a change in your previous level of functioning for a diagnosis of depression.
What are the best ways to communicate with a child who has depression?
1. Be honest and welcome it in return
Privately, ask your teen pointed questions about some of the things you’ve noticed and give them space to answer honestly, without judgment. For example,
- “I’m wondering why you haven’t spent much time with your friends lately.”
- “I’m worried because you’re sleeping much more than usual.”
- “I’ve noticed you get angry so quickly these days.”
2. Actively listen
When they do start to let their guard down, use active listening to reinforce that they’re being heard. Put away anything that can distract you and tune in, completely.
Depression sometimes makes people feel as if they’re burdening their loved ones and might cause them to misinterpret hesitation or other immediate priorities as a sign to back away completely.
If you really can’t give them your undivided attention, explain why. For instance,