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Forget how you can tell - here's how you can help

answered 12:48 PM EST, Fri June 15, 2012
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anonymous anonymous
How do I know if my teen daughter is depressed? She is 14 and all she ever wants to do is go to her room and close the door and listen to sad music. She says she is fine but she doesn’t seem to be hanging out with any of her old friends and she said she doesn’t want to do the band this year which is something she has always done. She also sleeps much later than she used to. I am looking at signs of depression on the internet and she seems to have a lot of them and to me as her mother I can just feel that something is wrong. My husband says I am crazy and that all the signs I am noticing are just an increased need for privacy and the normal moodiness and laziness of teenagehood. How can I tell the difference?

Raffi Bilek Says...

Less important than knowing whether she is or is not clinically depressed is what you are going to do about it. Whether she is suffering from depression or just normal teenage angst, odds are she won't be talking about it with her parents.  If there is an adult in her life whom she trusts (e.g. a teacher, older relative, etc.), you may want to bring that person in to connect with her. If not, you could gently offer her "someone to talk to" and help her find an appropriate counselor (in person or online).

That said, when it comes to depression, big changes are the key to look for.  If she drops all her old friends, plummets academically, changes her activities - that could be a sign that something's up. Again, there may be little you can do about besides providing a supportive environment - which may mean NOT asking her what's going on every day - and gently helping her connect with a professional who can help.

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