We all feel sad and down sometimes – children and teenagers are no different. Sometimes things don’t go our way, or we get hurt, or we lose a loved one. We are all moody, cranky and irritable sometimes. Some anger, some sadness in adolescents is a normal experience, just like the experiences of happiness and joy. For teenagers it is also common to have some struggles with identity and adjusting to teenage life as the brain develops into adulthood.
Teenage depression is more than occasional sadness or adolescent moodiness. Depression affects how people think, how they see themselves and the world. Children with mood problems can feel sad or irritable, may think that nothing is worthwhile or that things will never get better.
For children and adolescents, the symptoms of depression can include negative behaviour such as irritability or whining rather than sadness or tears. It can be easy to feel annoyed and to blame or punish children for their behaviour – without recognising it may be related to low mood problems. Oppositional and defiant behaviour is sometimes, although not always, related to low mood.
The top issues of concern for young people in Australia are coping with stress, anxiety, school or study problems and body image. The statistics for mental health are serious. Around a quarter of children will be affected by a mental health condition, and it’s important that parents and carers take low mood seriously.