Recognizing that a teenager is depressed is just as important as knowing the child has a physical illness. Teenagers can become depressed for various reasons, and symptoms can range from feeling mildly 'blue' to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Untreated depression can cause serious difficulties with school, behavior, and personal relationships. In an increasing number of cases, it can result in suicide. There are some warning signs to be aware of. If a teen's eating or sleeping habits change for a long period of time, or the child is having nightmares, that can tip you off that there's a problem with depression. A teen may suddenly not feel like doing things he or she normally loves to do. Speech patterns may have changed, you may be getting one- or two-word answers, or the tone of voice may have dulled. There may be psychosomatic (sy-ko-suh-MA-tic) physical symptoms, such as stomachaches, headaches, or even nonspecific physical complaints. Your teen may cry more easily or may 'act out,' in the form of anger, talking back, or picking fights at home or school. He may engage in even more violent or antisocial types of behavior. Listen carefully to the teen, and take both feelings and problems seriously. These signs may need to be followed up by sessions with a physician or other health care professional.
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