A new national US survey has recently revealed that many parents struggle to tell the difference between signs of teenage depression and their kid’s normal adolescent mood swings. The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, which is carried out by the University of Michigan, surveyed around 820 parents with at least one kid in junior high, middle school, or high school and asked them about their capability to recognize signs of teenage depression. The responses revealed that for around two-thirds of those surveyed, there are several challenges when it comes to monitoring the specific signs and symptoms of depression, with about 35 percent of parents reporting that their kid is good at hiding their emotional feelings, and 45 percent admitting that they find it difficult to differentiate between depression and anxiety symptoms and the normal ups & downs experienced during teenage years.
“In many families, the preteen and teen years bring dramatic changes both in youth behavior and in the dynamic between parents and children,” says poll co-director Sarah Clark. “These transitions can make it mainly challenging to get a read on children’s mental state and whether there is possible sadness.” On the other hand, a third of parents polled were sure that these challenges would not harm their capability to recognize signs of anxiety and depression in their kid. Many parents also thought that although they would be able to know depression in their teens, the kids would not be able to spot it in themselves. But Clark is of the opinion that “some parents may be too confident. “Some parents may be overestimating their ability to recognize depression in the mood and behavior of their own child. An overconfident parent may fail to pick up on the subtle signals that something is amiss.”
The studies also showed that even though it may be hard for parents to identify depression and anxiety, it is a common health issue among junior high, or high school children. One in five parents responded that their kid knows a classmate with depression, and 1 in 10 has reported that their kid knows a classmate who has died by suicide. Clark says parents should always look out for signs of depression such as, isolation, sadness, anger, irritability, and acting out, and could put forward that their kid finds a “go-to” adult whom they can talk and trust if they are feeling depressed.