Symptoms of depression

The typical symptoms of diagnosed depression in a young person include:

Emotional changes

  • feelings of unhappiness, emptiness or numbness
  • crying a lot
  • feeling hopeless or helpless
  • feeling worried or tense
  • feelings of worthlessness, guilt or self-blame
  • feeling agitated
  • increased irritability, anger or hostility
  • loss of interest and pleasure in activities they once enjoyed
  • tiredness, lack of energy and motivation.

Behavioural changes

  • poor attention to personal hygiene and appearance
  • decreased interest in activities/interaction with peers
  • avoidance of family interactions and activities
  • self-harm
  • more withdrawn behaviour including clearly more time spent alone
  • reckless or risky behaviour
  • high use of alcohol or drugs.

Physical changes

  • changes in sleeping patterns (trouble sleeping or over-sleeping and staying in bed most of the day)
  • changes in eating patterns (loss of appetite and weight or over-eating and gaining weight)
  • frequent complaints of physical illnesses such as headaches and stomach aches
  • cognitive changes (changes in perception, reasoning and judgement)
  • poor concentration, difficulty remembering information or making decisions
  • being self-critical and self-blaming
  • negative body image and low self-esteem
  • thoughts or expressions of suicide or self-harming behaviour.

Depression has many meanings. If someone is feeling depressed it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re suffering from the disorder depression.

There can be a danger of medicalising everyday emotions, so helping your son or daughter to talk about their feelings honestly and openly can help you to fully understand what’s going on.

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