Teenage years can be extremely tough and rough and differentiating between normal teen pains and depression may not be the easiest thing. Depression affects a lot of teenagers but it can be treated by using different means like therapy and prescribed medication.

Here are 5 subtle signs that your teenager might be depressed.

Changes in eating and sleeping habits

Most teenagers tend to sleep in but the problem comes in when they either sleep longer or barely get in some sleep. This, coupled with eating less or overeating should be a cause for concern. Take your time to observe and get involved in the activities your teen is involved in.

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They experience problems at school

Teenagers experience problems at school because depression could cause low concentration and energy. An inattentive student may have lower grades and be frustrated when it comes to doing their school tasks. If you notice that your child's academic performance has declined drastically, or they have stopped participating in extracurricular activities they once enjoyed, it is time to pay close attention to their mental well-being.

They become withdrawn, hostile and act out

Teenagers experiencing depression portray drastic changes in behaviour. For example, they may become withdrawn from family and friends and avoid activities that they previously loved doing. They could also avoid the company of other people, instead choosing to spend more time at home and isolate themselves. In some cases, the child starts lashing out or being aggressive towards other people.

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Drug and alcohol abuse

With the amount of information available online or even due to peer pressure, your child may be aware that something is wrong and may take to substance use as a way to feel better. Teens could exhibit a lack of hope and feelings of guilt which could motivate them to indulge in drug usage in an attempt to feel better or numb. Though they may be good at hiding their substance use, you can still know what they are up to if you pay close attention. Before punishing them, it is important to understand why they have taken to substance abuse.

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Low self-esteem

Depression in teenagers can trigger intense feelings of low self-esteem which may manifest in feeling unworthy, ugly or even shame. They may be fixated on their failures or could be overly criticizing and blaming themselves. If the child spends so much time in the mirror, or if they verbally make comments that are not so kind about themselves, you need to talk it out with them. Sometimes all they need is reassurance but other times, there is a need to see a qualified mental health professional.

Remember ...

Behavioural changes are the best and sometimes only clue that you are going to get when your child is suffering from depression. As a result, it is important to always pay attention to your child.  However, remember that in their teenage years, your child needs some freedom to explore and discover who they are on their own. Therefore, resist the temptation to hover.

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