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Published on March 09, 2016

Is Your Adolescent Moody or Depressed?

mental health depressed teen

Adolescents are notorious for their moods. Most of us have seen the teenager who is laughing one minute and locked in the bedroom the next minute upset and angry about something. While this can be annoying, it is not necessarily cause for alarm unless it lasts for a long time. An adolescent who no longer enjoys the activities he or she once enjoyed can be experiencing real depression.

There are three things to consider when you’re assessing your teen’s mood:

  1. Severity: Keep an eye on your child’s emotions, whether it’s a down mood, outbursts, crying or other symptoms. The more severe these signs are, the more likely it is that he or she may be depressed or troubled in some way.
  1. Duration: How long is the distressed mood lasting? If it seems to go on for a while, it could mean your child is struggling and needs help.
  1. Different areas of life: Is your child only acting out at home, but fine at school? Noticing changes in different areas of your child’s life may signify a mood disorder instead of just moodiness.

Are there ways to reduce the risk of depression?

Protective factors are conditions or attributes in individuals, families and communities that when present reduce risk of depression and increase the health and wellbeing of children and families. Examples of protective factors include increasing social interaction such as spending to with family and friends, being involved in community activities, participating in extracurricular activities, and healthy habits such as good nutrition and sleep. You can encourage your teen to take part in these types of activities.

While these protective factors can help reduce the risk of depression, it is important to know that even individuals involved in these activities can suffer from depression.

How do you know if your teen is depressed? What can you do?

It is important to determine if a child is suffering from depression and to get them connected to treatment resources. There is hope and there is help.

Bryan Medical Center offers a free, online depression screening you can take on behalf of your adolescent child. It’s easy and will give you the answers you need to determine your next steps, if any. You can take the screening anytime, day or night.

If you find yourself in a crisis situation, the Bryan West Campus Mental Health Emergency Department is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for emergency mental health care/crisis assessments to determine the best approach to help your child.

dave miers

About Dr. Dave Miers

Dave Miers, PhD, is director of behavioral health services at Bryan Medical Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.

He helped establish the Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition in 1999 and chaired/co-chaired this Coalition until 2017. He currently serves on the Board of Directors. Dr. Miers is a member of the leadership group for the Lincoln/Lancaster County Suicide Prevention Coalition. Dr. Miers has published research and co-authored a chapter in the Routledge International Handbook of Clinical Suicide Research focusing on family survivors of a child suicide. Dr. Miers helped develop the Lincoln Lancaster Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) team in Lincoln, Neb. He also helped develop other LOSS teams in Nebraska and is active with LOSS team development on a national level.


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