The South African Depression and Anxiety Group has also revealed that it receives around 400 calls every single day. But what is even more worrying is the fact that it has recently been announced that 25% of all South African university students have been diagnosed with depression. Here’s what you need to know and what you can do if you suspect your child needs help.
The signs of depression
Depression isn’t always blatantly obvious. Even those who always seem to be happy, humorous and positive may be battling demons inside, of which nobody else is aware.
Most teens have become incredibly talented when it comes to hiding feelings of sadness. Because of this, it is endlessly important for parents to educate themselves on some of the less visible signs to look out for. For example, many teens who suffer from depression will also come across as more irritable than normal. They may show little interest in the activities that they used to enjoy, and they may start to withdraw from their friends and relatives, spending more and more time on their own.
Other common symptoms include:
- Sadness and tearfulness
- Changes in eating habits
- Low self-esteem
- Problems at university, particularly when it comes to their marks
- Lack of motivation
- Sleeping more often than usual
- Poor concentration
What to do
If ever you suspect that your teen is suffering from depression, the most important thing to do is to get them help.
Some parents may feel offended when their child won’t confide in them, but this is normal. When depression is present, it is essential that it is handled by a professional who knows how to approach the situation and who is qualified to diagnose the condition. Forcing your child to open up to you could make things worse. The key is to be gentle but persistent. Explain to them that you are there for them and that you don’t judge them.
Always make an effort to acknowledge their feelings when they do speak to you. The worst thing that you can say is ‘snap out of it’ or ‘it’s just a phase’ or ‘there are people out there with worse problems’. At the end of the day, depression is not something that your teen has control over.
If you decide to seek help, do your best to involve your teen in the treatment choices that you make. If they don’t seem to like a therapist or psychologist that you have chosen, listen to their input. Sometimes it takes a few tries to find a ‘good fit’. Ultimately, if you want the treatment to work, it is important to do everything that you can to make sure your child feels comfortable and acknowledged.
Most importantly, remember that depression does not discriminate. It can affect anyone at any time. Luckily, if you know the signs to look out for, you will be able to remedy the problem before it worsens.
If you need to find help for your teen or another loved one, visit The South African Depression and Anxiety Group online.
“I am bent, but not broken. I am scarred, but not disfigured. I am sad, but not hopeless. I am tired, but not powerless. I am angry, but not bitter. I am depressed, but not giving up.” ~ Anon