Six Signs of Depression in Your Teenager

Have you found that awkward moment when you knew something just seemed out of place with your teenager but didn’t know what to say or do? Have you found your teenager getting defensive with your questions of “What’s wrong?”, “Why are you so sad?”, “What’s the matter with you?” Have you found yourself frustrated with trying to understand your teen’s moodiness?

You are not alone among many parents of teens. A lot of times we have found that many parents of teens get frustrated, confused, and at times discouraged themselves in what to do to help their kid. The teenage years are one of the most difficult times of growing up in life and we want our son / daughter to succeed in life and to be or do their best.

Through the counseling process, we as counselors have found that many of our teen clients with encouragement from their families work through the difficult challenges they face gathering internal and external help, hope, courage, and strength to overcome the intensity of depression. Just being able to sort out mixed feelings, sad and confusing feelings, tragedies of life, losses, changes, and low self-esteem really helps them regain direction, confidence, and self-worth.

As for depression, here are six signs that we highly suggest not to ignore or to believe that they are “normal” for teenagers. Periodic changes or very short-term signs may be normal. You know your teen but may have found a change in your relationship and refreshing your observation and interaction with them can be rather helpful.

  • You notice a change in his/her attitude in general
    This may or may not be directed toward you as a parent but it becomes noticeable when they “snap” at simple or daily requests; answers get shorter or sarcastic in nature; she/he seems angry, moody, or grumpy; he/she may just look sad or down without much explanation; and he/she may just “want to be left alone”.
  • His/her behavior changes in that they may stop doing fun activities
    • This may include not wanting to hang out with friends as much; they may turn down invitations to events they used to enjoy. You may find him/her more in their rooms, walking slower, isolating themselves from others, not turning in their assignments on time or at all, getting into arguments with siblings, friends, or adult figures. He/she may seem a bit more restless, irritable or lethargic.
  • He/she may be eating more or less than usual
    • You may find her/him snacking more than usual or skipping meals altogether, or eating less and less; or they may be eating foods that are crunchy or soft (in the context of the mood changes) which may reflect certain feelings they are experiencing. The types of food eaten may also affect your teen’s mood so be mindful of this.
  • He/she may be sleeping less or more
    • You may find it more difficult getting him/her out of bed for school or family events or they are sleepy with their eye lids barely open or they are sleeping in more and more, or they are restless in their sleep or maybe complain of “bad dreams” or nightmares. Sleep changes are also a factor in mood and may be related to depression.
  • Lack of motivation or procrastination
    • The typical enthusiasm just is not the same. They put off assignments until the day before they are due, or they have little or no planning to be with others or to do things he/she once enjoyed. You may find yourself more frustrated in getting them to do chores or other responsibilities around the house or with the family.
  • Talking about death or saying the world would be better without them
    • This is very important to listen out for and look to seek help right away. He/she may talk as if there is no sense in planning for the future or they don’t see much of the future with him/her in it. Sometimes you may find them giving away their stuff or “prized” possessions or hoping the best for everyone (as if they are going on a long trip and not coming back).

NOTE: Some of these signs may indicate more than depression or something other than depression including but not limited to the following: various types of medical issues, use of or exposure to toxic substances, beginning or increased use or addiction to alcohol and/or other drugs or substances.

Your awareness of your teenager, his/her interactions with siblings or friends; activities they do; also extracurricular activities such as sports, music, clubs, etc. and if he/she works, their work schedule will help you in noticing these signs. Also, “hanging out” with him/her from time to time with informal “dating”, showing interest in what he/she is interested in and listening to them without criticism (aka - judgment), asking their feedback on certain family decisions, is critical in staying connected without “hovering” over them.

Things that may trigger these signs of depression are loss of a close friend (to death, moved away), loss of a friendship, break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, disappointment in performance, low self-esteem, not meeting expectations of you as a parent or of themselves, as well as other things.

If you are seeing these signs, ask if they may want to see someone who is objective, a good listener, and who may be able to help them through some rough times in their lives. Or possibly you yourself may want to come in and problem solve about parenting or how to approach your teen better. Let’s talk and see how we may be of help for your teenager and possibly you too.

Give us a call or send us an email. We are open to connecting with you.


Article credit: Pathways Counseling Services, by permission.


Five Things That May Cause Your Depression

Do you ever hear others or yourself say, “Just get over it” or “How long are you going to feel that way?” Or hearing others giving you those “guilt trip” comments or questions like, “You shouldn’t feel that way”, “Why do you feel so sad?” or “Oh you shouldn’t feel so bad, should you?” or “There are so many other people in the world that have it much worse than you do”.  

Do you wonder if feeling depressed is supposed to last this long or have you wondered how you ever got to feeling depressed to begin with. There is hope in getting through this time in your life. You are not alone in feeling sad or depressed as we have counseled many people through their struggles with depression and with similar feelings. And yes, you matter and how you feel, what you are going through is different than others because you are you and you are worth being understood. Your feelings, your thoughts are yours.

Through our years of counseling people with depression, the inward signs or outward expressions may be rather similar – such as low mood, slowed daily activity, change in appetite, change in sleep patterns, feelings of hopelessness, not doing satisfying activities as much if not at all as you use to do, feelings of not wanting to be around anymore (including suicidal thoughts), low self-esteem, and lack of motivation. We have found that depression may be a way to cope with life, a reaction to relationship problems, as well as reactions to hurtful, painful or overwhelming life situations. We also understand that there are medical reasons to depression and sharing this with your healthcare provider may be helpful as well.

Your story, your situation, your life is unique to you. Here are five areas that may trigger your depression. Can you relate to any of these listed below?

  •         Grief and loss – This is significant in many different ways from the loss of a loved one or close friend, loss of an abuser, loss of a relationship (such as in divorce, when you or another move away, change of co-workers, empty nest, etc.), loss or change in health, loss of a pet, loss or significant change in job, change in financial status, change in living situation or life transitions and several other instances.
  •         History of unresolved hurt – This can be due to past abuse, trauma, parents’ divorce, mistrust in relationships, or other significant life events, abandonment, minimal or lack of a healthy bond or attachment with key adult figures while as an infant, toddler, young child (such as mother, father, caregiver). Also hurt with current relationship/s including conflict, unmet expectations, poor communication, etc. Anger may often be present with this hurt as depression may be referred to at times as anger turned inward. Other feelings may include guilt (whether true or false) over what you had done or not done what was expected or needed of you. Also, shame is a significant feeling attributed to depression.  
  •         Lack of forgiveness (or holding a grudge) – This is seen with those who may have caused you a lot of trouble, antagonism, or caused you and/or a loved one much harm (such as in abuse, rape, domestic violence, workplace bullying, car accident, theft, etc.)   By holding a grudge it may feel like you have power over the person/s who harmed you but we have found that the grudge has more of a way of harming you emotionally, mentally, and physically.
  •         Medical condition/s – Given that depression has a medical component to it, there could be a chemical imbalance that may trigger the depression. It can also be coupled with other medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, fibro myalgia, and other conditions (which we recommend you discuss with your healthcare provider). Thus, the depression may be specifically medical or it may be a combination of both medical and situational/relational.
  •         Emotional exhaustion – This can come from being over stressed, being in a high demanding job, working two or more jobs or juggling between work and school, high demanding relationship, caregiving (whether of a family member or as part of your job) or from giving away too much of yourself to a point of just not caring anymore. Feeling just plain emotionally or mentally drained.

If you see yourself in or can relate to one or more of these areas that may be causing your depression, there is help available for you. We have found that by working through these areas and making sense or clearing up these causes can greatly reduce or bring complete freedom from your depression. You may want to see one of our counselors who is objective, a good listener, helpful in problem-solving, and who may be able to help you through these difficult areas.


Article credit: Pathways Counseling Services, by permission.

For the Teen Who Feels Sad: Six Things to Look For

Have you felt so down that you just didn’t care? Have you felt like life just sucks or isn’t fair? Have you tried to cover up your depression by pretending you’re happy? Are you sad but don’t know really why?

What about when life hits us hard? When we're just not our best, or feelin’ sad or depressed? Or just stressed out? Where do we go then? Do we tell or post about our yucky feelings or sucky times as well as our good? Or do we withdraw or withhold how we are really feeling? What do we do? Ugh! Yuck!

So how do ya know if you’re just bummed or if it’s serious stuff goin’ on? Here are six things you can look for to see if you may be more than just bummed out.

  • You notice an attitude change
    • You may get angry at your parents, brother, sister for any little thing they do. You cop an attitude when you’re asked to do something or you give short or sarcastic answers to “dumb” questions. You may feel moody, or grumpy. Your friends or family may tell you that you have changed or are not yourself or that you need an “attitude adjustment”. You may just “want to be left alone”.
  • Your actions change so much that you stop doing fun stuff 
    • This may include not wanting to hang out with friends as much; you may turn down invites to places you like hanging out at. You may find yourself chilling in your room for a long time, walking slower, avoiding pretty much everybody, not turning in assignments on time or at all, not doing your chores, getting into arguments with your family, friends, or adults in “authority”. You’re just not yourself…you feel restless, snappy, even angry, or just feel like a tired turtle.
  • You eat a bunch or not much at all
    • You may find that you snack more than usual or skip meals or eat less and less; or you may be eating crunchy or soft food depending on your mood you which may be about certain thoughts or feelings you are having.  
  • You may be sleeping less or more 
    • You may find it more difficult getting out of bed for school or for family stuff or are sleepy with your eyes barely open or are sleeping in more and more. You might even feel like when you lay down that you toss and turn or maybe you get “bad dreams” or nightmares. Sleep changes can affect your mood and may be related to depression.  
  • You lack motivation or you procrastinate 
    • The typical enthusiasm just is not the same. You avoid homework until the day before it’s due, or you just don’t plan on doing anything with your friends like you used to do or you could care less about making friends at all. You feel like your mom or dad nags you all the time to get your chores done and they may even get mad at you for ignoring them.  
  • You talk about death or feel like the world would be better without you 
    • You feel like if a big giant meteor fell out of the sky and landed on you, you wouldn’t mind. You may figure, “What’s the use?” or “Life sucks and I don’t wanna be here anymore!” “Nobody would even notice if I was gone”. You may even start planning to leave life by giving away your stuff.

NOTE: Some of these signs may show more than depression or something other than depression including but not limited to the following: various types of medical issues, use of or exposure to toxic substances, beginning or increased use or addiction to alcohol and/or other drugs or substances.

Sometimes, friends and family may not understand or they are too close to the situation to be open, honest, or objective with us. This is where we may find ourselves trying to hide the pain or do something to feel better. You may get a stomach ache or feel weird and wonder “What’s wrong with me? Where do I go?” “I’m not crazy just a little down…things ain’t like how I want…I don’t wanna keep feeling this way…so what do I do? 

We have found many times teens coming to see us just want to talk and sort out these rough spots in their lives with us. Counselors are not your parents and not your friends either…but hey we help you sort out some serious stuff so you can feel better about yourself. We help you figure things out so you can be your own person.

When it's time to share "private" matters, go to someone who you can trust who will be able to listen and hold in confidence your hurts and hopefully for you to gain comfort, reassurance that you’re not crazy…to help you feel more okay, cool, or at peace about life.  


Article credit: Pathways Counseling Services, by permission.



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