As your child starts puberty, many changes are expected to occur. Along with obvious physical changes, your adolescent may also go through many challenges emotionally. And while hormonal changes trigger mood swings in teenagers, parents should all the more help an adolescent cope during this transitional stage. According to studies, one out of eight teens has depression. And although this may sound alarming, parents can do so much in terms of understanding and identifying the warning signs of depression in teens.

There are many factors that can play a role in causing depression among teenagers. Research has shown that a person’s genetic make-up can predispose an individual to developing depression. Life events like death of a loved one, or the divorce of parents may also trigger depression among adolescents. There are also other factors that may cause depression like substance abuse, and health problems related to one’s hormonal balance.

It may be difficult to distinguish depression from the usual ups and downs that a person goes through at some point. While some parents can recognize warning signs in a child, there are others who may not have a clue of what an adolescent is going through. Be wary for noticeable changes in your teen’s thinking and behavior. An adolescent with depression may manifest any of these warning signs:

– sadness or depressed mood
– withdrawal from family and friends
– lack of motivation or interest to carry on with usual activities
– significant change in sleeping patterns
– considerable change in eating patterns leading to weight loss or gain
– problems in concentration
– complaints of aches or pains without any underlying physical cause
– feelings of guilt
– rebellious behavior
– thoughts of death or suicide

If you have reason to believe that your teen may be depressed, seek help from a health care provider. Your doctor may need to conduct interviews and psychological tests with your child and the rest of the family. After proper assessment, the doctor can then determine the severity of depression as well as the treatment needed. More importantly, your teen needs to be assessed for the risk of suicidal or even homicidal tendencies. Keep in mind that depression is a serious condition, and parents should never safely assume that an adolescent can snap out of depression on his own.

It is then important for parents to recognize that depression may come and go at intervals. After successful treatment, a teen may still be depressed again at some point. Thus, it is important for parents to try to keep communication lines open, and to remain supportive especially during this stage when numerous changes are expected.

When disciplining your adolescent, try positive reinforcement and avoid shaming or punishing your child. Allow your teen to make decisions regarding his welfare, and don’t dictate him on what you want to see him accomplish. Allow him to develop a sense of identity, without overprotecting him from committing mistakes or even taking risks. It is also vital that you keep communication lines open. Regardless of how busy your day can be, always make time for conversations with your child. Stay supportive, and try to be involved in your child’s life

Teen depression is a serious problem, and it is one condition that parents should learn how to recognize. After all, depression is the leading cause of suicide, and the third leading cause of death among adolescents. And although it can be treated, it is unfortunate that only a small percentage of teens get the help that they need.

The teen years can really be challenging for parents, but it may even be more difficult for your growing child. As a parent, you have a big part to play in your child’s life. The trials may be plenty, but with proper support and guidance, you can help your child overcome these challenges.