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Depression/Anxiety in Teens: What You Can Look For

Depression and Anxiety have always been issues that affect teens. However, the uncertain times of a pandemic, the isolation of lockdowns, and more time spent on social media than ever before, are adding fuel to the fire in regards to the mental health obstacles that teens already face.

As a coach, teacher, parent, or other influential person in their life, it's important to be aware of the warning signs of anxiety and depression.

Warning Signs of Depression: What to Look For

Emotional changes

  • Feelings of sadness, such as crying spells for no apparent reason

  • Frustration or feelings of anger, even over small matters

  • Feeling hopeless or empty

  • Irritable or annoyed mood

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities

  • Loss of interest in, or conflict with, family and friends

  • Low self-esteem

  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt

  • Fixation on past failures or exaggerated self-blame or self-criticism

  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure, and the need for excessive reassurance

  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things

  • Ongoing sense that life and the future are grim and bleak

  • Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide

Behavioral changes

  • Tiredness and loss of energy

  • Insomnia or sleeping too much

  • Changes in appetite

  • Use of alcohol or drugs

  • Agitation or restlessness

  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements

  • Frequent complaints of unexplained body aches and headaches

  • Social isolation

  • Poor school performance or frequent absences from school

  • Less attention to personal hygiene or appearance

  • Angry outbursts or other acting-out behaviors

  • Self-harm

  • Making a suicide plan or a suicide attempt

If you are noticing these warning signs in a teen or child in your life, have a conversation with them about how they are feeling. You can help by assisting them in creating a plan to manage their emotions, and/or by helping them to seek medical treatment and guidance.

Warning Signs of Anxiety: What to Look For

Physical changes:

  • Frequent headaches

  • Gastrointestinal problems

  • Unexplained aches and pains

  • Excessive fatigue

  • Complaints of not feeling well with no obvious medical cause

  • Changes in eating habits

Emotional changes:

  • Excessively worried

  • Feeling or acting on edge

  • Developing an extreme or new fear

  • Irritability

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Restlessness

  • Unexplained outbursts

Social changes:

  • Avoiding social interactions or usual friends

  • Avoiding extracurricular activities

  • Isolating from peers

  • Spending increased time alone

Sleep changes:

  • Difficulty falling asleep

  • Difficulty staying asleep

  • Frequent nightmares

  • Not acting refreshed after sleep

School changes:

  • Significant jump in grades

  • Sudden avoidance of school

  • Frequently missed assignments

  • Overwhelmed by workload

  • Procrastinates on assignments more than usual

  • Difficulty completing or concentrating on homework

If a teen or child in your life is struggling with anxiety, or exhibiting its warning signs, have a discussion with them. Anxiety is treatable and manageable. Help them by developing strategies to ease their anxiety levels, and by directing them to a medical professional for treatment and/or guidance.

These are trying times for all of us, and the teens and children in your life are having to process their own emotions and reactions to the world around them as well. Develop an open line of communication between you and your teen/child. Be sure that you make it known that you are there to listen, understand, and help. It's okay to not be okay, and things can get better with proper treatment and support.

Resources Used/ Some Additional Resources For Reference!

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