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They start to form an identity at this age as they experiment with with hobbies, activities, clothes, hairstyles, and music. They try on different identities to see what fits.
While most 13-year-olds have given up their childhood toys, they still play with their friends in a variety of ways. From slumber parties and camping out in the backyard to board games and sports activities, most 13-year-olds want to be active with their friends.
“Thirteen-year-olds tend to want to spend more time with their friends than with family members,” Dr. Segura says. “They also start to form an identity at this age as they experiment with with hobbies, activities, clothes, hairstyles, and music. They try on different identities to see what fits.”
Your teen may develop different personas or go through various phases, choosing to wear their hair in new ways to express themselves. You also may notice your teen pulling away from the family.
While it can hard to watch your child spend less time with you, having fun with their peers can be an important social outlet and is an integral part of their development. It can also be instrumental in helping them manage stress.
Although they may not be officially dating yet, it is important to have conversations about healthy relationships and consent. Also, if your child is exploring their gender identity or sexual orientation, it is important to list with an open mind.
When To Seek Help
Identifying depression in teens can be difficult because it doesnt necessarily show up in all aspects of a teen’s life and can be episodic, appearing to come and go. But depression in teens is often serious. It is a mistake to wait and hope depression will get better on its own because it usually doesn’t.
Untreated depression can lead to other serious problems, such as substance use, behavior problems, and medical issues. It is important to have your teen evaluated by a doctor in order to receive an appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
If your teen has significant changes in mood, behavior, or personality that last more than a few weeks, it’s a good idea to seek professional help to try to determine the reason behind these changes.
Your child’s doctor can also check for other medical conditions that might be contributing to your teen’s symptoms. A 2018 study found that children who are diagnosed with depression are more likely to have other chronic health problems, other mental health conditions, as well as other unmet mental and medical health services needs.
It may not be depression, but any long-term changes in your teen’s functioning suggest a serious problem that needs to be identified and addressed. Its always best to err on the side of caution when the possibility of teen depression exists, as it may continue to worsen and can lead to suicide.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
How To Help A Depressed Teenager
Depression is very damaging when left untreated, so dont wait and hope that worrisome symptoms will go away. If you suspect that your teen is depressed, bring up your concerns in a loving, non-judgmental way. Even if youre unsure that depression is the issue, the troublesome behaviors and emotions youre seeing are signs of a problem that should be addressed.
Open up a dialogue by letting your teen know what specific depression symptoms youve noticed and why they worry you. Then ask your child to share what theyre going throughand be ready and willing to truly listen. Hold back from asking a lot of questions , but make it clear that youre ready and willing to provide whatever support they need.
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Catch Your Child Being Good
Positive discipline is most effective for children with depression. Look for opportunities to praise your child by saying things like, You did a great job cleaning your room today, or, Thank you for helping me clean up after dinner. Praise will encourage your child to keep up the good work.
Discuss Seeking Professional Help
If your teen begins talking about depression, acknowledge the sadness and pain the child is experiencing, so your teen knows you’re taking his feelings seriously. If a teen shuts down, suggest that you understand he may not feel comfortable talking with you, but you would like for him to talk to a health professional because you care about him.
Parents can expect resistance to this idea, Beresin said.
Parents should also make sure they have their own support systems in place to be able to tolerate a depressed teen’s anger or rejection, Beresin added.
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Provide Structure To Your Childs Day
Kids with depression often struggle to fill their time with meaningful activities. For example, a child may sit in his room all day, or he may put off doing his chores as long as possible.
Create a simple schedule that provides structure to your childs day. Set aside time for homework, chores, and other responsibilities and allow him to have limited electronics time once his work is done. Children with depression sometimes struggle with sleep issues, so its important to establish a healthy bedtime routine as well.
Prevention Of Anxiety And Depression
It is not known exactly why some children develop anxiety or depression. Many factors may play a role, including biology and temperament. But it is also known that some children are more likely to develop anxiety or depression when they experience trauma or stress, when they are maltreated, when they are bullied or rejected by other children, or when their own parents have anxiety or depression.
Although these factors appear to increase the risk for anxiety or depression, there are ways to decrease the chance that children experience them. Learn about public health approaches to prevent these risks:
Recommended Reading: Symptoms Of Depression And Anxiety In Teens
About Joan Munson Phd
Dr. Joan Simeo Munson earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver. She has worked with incarcerated individuals, families, adolescents, and college students in a variety of settings, including county and city jails, community mental health centers, university counseling centers, and hospitals. She also has a background in individual, group, and couples counseling. Dr. Munson lives in Colorado with her husband and three energetic children. She currently has a private practice in Boulder where she sees adults, couples and adolescents.
Are These Symptoms Present In All Kids With Childhood Depression
No. Not all children have all of the symptoms of childhood depression. In fact, kids have different symptoms of childhood depression at different times and in different settings.
Some children may continue to function reasonably well in structured environments. But most kids with childhood depression will suffer a very noticeable change in social activities, a loss of interest in school, poor academic performance, or a change in appearance. Children may also begin using drugs or alcohol. Or they may start smoking cigarettes, especially if they are over ageÃ 12.
Although it’s uncommon in children under age 12, some young children do attempt suicide — and may do so impulsively when they are upset or angry. Studies show that girls are more likely to attempt suicide. But boys are more likely to actually kill themselves when they make an attempt.
Children with a family history of violence, alcohol abuse, or physical or sexual abuse are at greater risk for suicide. So are those with symptoms of childhood depression.
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How A Former Abortion Doctor Became Pro
As an abortion doctor at Planned Parenthood, Dr. Patti Giebink believed she was helping women. Later, she began reading scripture and God gradually changed her heart on the abortion issue. Patti tells the story of her long journey from abortion doctor to pro-life and encourages listeners to share the message of life with compassion.
Helping A Depressed Teen Tip : Encourage Social Connection
Depressed teens tend to withdraw from their friends and the activities they used to enjoy. But isolation only makes depression worse, so do what you can to help your teen reconnect.
Make face time a priority. Set aside time each day to talktime when youre focused totally on your teen, without distractions or trying to multi-task. The simple act of connecting face to face can play a big role in reducing your teens depression. And remember: talking about depression or your teens feelings will not make the situation worse, but your support can make all the difference in their recovery.
Combat social isolation. Do what you can to keep your teen connected to others. Encourage them to go out with friends or invite friends over. Participate in activities that involve other families and give your child an opportunity to meet and connect with other kids.
Try to reduce their social media use. Remind your teen that social media isnt an ideal substitute for face-to-face interactions. Encourage them to turn off their phoneor at least disable notificationswhen socializing in person, focusing on work, or preparing for bed.
Get your teen involved. Suggest activitiessuch as sports, after-school clubs, or an art, dance, or music classthat take advantage of your teens interests and talents. While your teen may lack motivation and interest at first, as they reengage with the world, they should start to feel better and regain their enthusiasm.
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The Importance Of Accepting And Sharing Your Feelings
It can be hard to open up about how youre feelingespecially when youre feeling depressed, ashamed, or worthless. Its important to remember that many people struggle with feelings like these at one time or anotherit doesnt mean that youre weak, fundamentally flawed, or no good. Accepting your feelings and opening up about them with someone you trust will help you feel less alone.
Even though it may not feel like it at the moment, people do love and care about you. If you can muster the courage to talk about your depression, it canand willbe resolved. Some people think that talking about sad feelings will make them worse, but the opposite is almost always true. It is very helpful to share your worries with someone who will listen and care about what you say. They dont need to be able to fix you they just need to be good listeners.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Childhood Depression
If your child has symptoms of depression that have lasted for at least two weeks, you should schedule a visit with their health care provider. You will want to make sure that there are no physical reasons for the symptoms. You’ll also want to make sure that your child receives proper treatment.
A consultation with a mental health professional that specializes in treating kids with childhood depression is also recommended.
A mental health evaluation for childhood depression should include interviews with you and your child. In addition, psychological testing may be helpful for clarifying the diagnosis and making treatment recommendations. Information from teachers, friends, and classmates can be useful for showing that the symptoms of childhood depression are present during your child’s various activities and are a marked change from previous behavior.
There are no specific tests — medical or psychological — that can clearly show childhood depression. But tools such as questionnaires and interviews by a mental health professional that include taking a careful history can help to make an accurate diagnosis.
Also Check: How To Get Work Done With Depression
What You Need To Know If Your Child Is Depressed
A woman walked into an emergency room with her 13-year-old son, her lips pursed. He was there for a psychiatric evaluation for suicidal thoughts that he had voiced to his school counselor. After my evaluation of her son, I sat down with her to talk. She didnt look pleased. I hope youre here to tell me youre discharging him, she said. We have to get to soccer practice in an hour.
What I was about to tell her was the opposite. Actually, Im here to tell you about your sons depression, I said to her gently. I told her that her 13-year-old had been struggling for the past few months and that the past week had been especially tough. I told her about his difficulty falling asleep, and how much of a struggle it was for him to get out of bed in the morning. I told her that what she saw as teenage snippiness was stemming from something much deeper, based on my assessment as a child psychiatrist. What was hardest to tell her, however, was how far the depression had gotten. For the past few days, he has been feeling like he doesnt deserve to be alive, I said. Id like to refer him for hospitalization to get more help in a safe setting, because whats going on here is perfectly treatable, and he doesnt need to struggle this way anymore.
Mental illness is just like any medical illness. It cant always be prevented, but it can be treated.
Tip : Make Physical Health A Priority
Physical and mental health are inextricably connected. Depression is exacerbated by inactivity, inadequate sleep, and poor nutrition. Unfortunately, teens are known for their unhealthy habits: staying up late, eating junk food, and spending hours on their phones and devices. But as a parent, you can combat these behaviors by establishing a healthy, supportive home environment.
Get your teen moving!Exercise is absolutely essential to mental health, so get your teen activewhatever it takes. Ideally, teens should be getting at least an hour of physical activity a day, but it neednt be boring or miserable. Think outside the box: walking the dog, dancing, shooting hoops, going for a hike, riding bikes, skateboardingas long as theyre moving, its beneficial.
Set limits on screen time. Teens often go online to escape their problems, but when screen time goes up, physical activity and face time with friends goes down. Both are a recipe for worsening symptoms. Gently encourage your teen to take an occasional vacation from their devices or engage in family activities that dont involve screen time. You can also set an example by reducing your own time spent online.
Encourage plenty of sleep.Teens need more sleep than adults to function optimallyup to 9-10 hours per night. Make sure your teen isnt staying up until all hours at the expense of much-needed, mood-supporting rest.
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Identifying Triggers In Your Marriage
They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lias story, youll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!
Listen And Try To Understand Your Adolescent
When approaching your teenager for a conversation, your goal should be to just simply listen. Most of the time, your child wants you to listen rather than fix the situation. Try reflecting back what your daughter states. Think about what it would feel like to be in her shoes. Focus on trying to understand where she is coming from. Of course, you are the parent, so there are situations where you have to intervene for safety or consequences but make sure there are plenty of conversations that arent characterized by intervention. Instead, these should be marked by a relaxed mutual sharing and enjoyment of one another.
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Making A Support Plan
If your child is experiencing depression and needs ongoing support, it can be helpful to create a support plan together with the professionals around your child so that you know exactly what help is available and how your child can access it. This could include things like:
- agreements with their GP, or their key worker if they are being treated by CAMHS, about when they will next check-in
- whether any referrals can be made to other services, and a list of the services available locally that might be able to support them
- what your childs school can offer including a staff member who they can speak to when theyre struggling.
- people your child trusts and can talk to when they need to, including family and friends.
You can find out more about speaking to GPs, finding a counsellor or therapist, accessing Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services , getting help from your childs school and finding local services on our guide to getting help.
Raising A Strong Daughter In A Toxic Culture: 11 Steps To Keep Her Happy Healthy And Safe
Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young womenand what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughterwhether shes a toddler or a troubled teento achieve her full human potential.
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Tactics 10th Anniversary Edition: A Game Plan For Discussing Your Christian Convictions
In a world increasingly indifferent to Christian truth, followers of Christ need to be equipped to communicate with those who do not speak their language or accept their source of authority. In Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition, Gregory Koukl demonstrates how to artfully regain control of conversations, keeping them moving forward in constructive ways through thoughtful diplomacy. Youll learn how to stop challengers in their tracks and how to turn the tables on questions or provocative statements. Most important, youll learn how to get people thinking about Jesus.