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Adolescents are notorious for their moods. Most of us have seen the teenager who is laughing one minute and locked in his bedroom the next minute upset and angry about something. While this is not necessarily cause for alarm (although it can be annoying), it can be if it lasts for a long time. An adolescent who no longer enjoys the activities he 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Different areas of life: Is your child only acting out at home, but fine at school? Noticing changes in different venues may signify a mood disorder instead of just mooodiness.

It’s also important to remember that the things we call “protective factors” when it comes to depression and anxiety, such as social interaction, sports, and good rest, are often not enough. A child who is suffering from depression needs medical care. Heartland Family Service offers a free and anonymous online depression screening you can take on behalf of your adolescent child.