How to Spot Depression in Teenage Boys

Teenagers are known to be emotional and moody, but these symptoms tend to border mental illness. It can be difficult to spot the difference between a bad day and depression in teens. An even added challenge is to spot the difference between depression symptoms in boys versus girls. While there are not many, boys can present depression signs a bit differently than girls. Let’s discuss how to spot these symptoms.

Physical Signs

When we think of depression, we mainly think of low energy, depressed mood, and feelings of hopelessness. However, depression in teenage boys can manifest as physical symptoms as well.

  • Not taking care of personal hygiene. This could look like refusing to bathe or shower, wearing the same clothes, or failing to use deodorant. Once in a while is normal, but constantly having to remind your son to wash his face or brush his teeth could be a warning sign.
  • Headaches, body pains, and stomach issues with unexplained causes. Suppressing or ignoring depression symptoms can cause tension in the body that may present as muscle or joint pain.
  • Eating too much or too little. Again, this can be normal teenage behavior, but it is important to keep an eye on his eating habits.
  • Oversleeping and low energy. It’s one thing if your teen is staying up late to talk to friends or play games, but it is another if he’s getting enough rest and still feeling fatigued. The same could be said for not being able to sleep. Insomnia is also an indicator of depression.

Behavioral Signs

Behavior signs are easy to ignore, especially if they are excused as being a normal teenage boy. However, these can be an indication of something more serious.

  • Mood swings and emotional outbursts. Extreme highs and lows can mean more than just hormonal changes. Depression can also present as anger or irritation over seemingly small things. It can also be difficult to calm himself down once emotions are high.
  • Being unable to focus. Teens may start to forget to do daily tasks, lose concentration at school, and struggle with decision-making. This could impact his overall wellbeing and problem-solving skills.
  • Withdrawing from social activities, extracurriculars, and pleasurable hobbies that they use to love can be a major sign of depression in boys. He may start to spend more time in his room and stop engaging with friends and family.
  • Lower self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness may start to increase. Your son may start to dwell on past mistakes associated with feelings of guilt and shame. He also may start to develop a negative view of himself.
  • Taking risks. Teens may start to make bad choices, ignore responsibilities, and avoid consequences. Risky behavior can range anywhere from smoking and drinking to sneaking and staying out past curfew.

How Can Parents Help?

As caregivers, it is important to not ignore these signs and symptoms, but rather encourage communication. You may receive some push back from your son on talking about feelings, but just reassure him you are there for love and support. Remember, it can be easy to blame all of this on normal hormonal changes or teenage behavior, but they are also major signs of depression.

If these symptoms start to increase, it may be time to reach out to a mental health professional. Counselors could be a great resource to learn about depression in teens, as well as creating a safe and welcoming environment for your son to work through negative thoughts and feelings. It may be beneficial to attend some sessions with your teen to show support and help him realize that he is not alone. Reach out and schedule a consultation today!