Teenage depression plagues many teens. Maybe even your’s. Teenage depression ranks as one of the top ten problems experienced by 13 to 19-year-olds. How do you know if your teenager’s depressed?

Depression Warning Signs

Let’s keep this simple. Does your teen smile, engage with you, and appear happy? Are your teen’s friends happy? What are your teen’s grades? A’s and B’s or D’s and F’s. What are your teen’s extra-curricular activities? Sports, music, clubs, scouts. Have a part-time job? Not eat and losing weight? Smoke cigarettes or e-cigarettes? Break up with a long-time girlfriend or boyfriend that you like? Have any teachers, family members, friends or employer told you that your teen seems troubled. down or depressed? If not, keep doing what you’re doing. But be on guard for these warning signs.

These warning signs may also indicate your teenager’s drinking alcohol and using drugs. Far-too-often parents and even doctors diagnose teen depression. And fail to consider an alcohol or drug problem. That may seem absurd, but it happens. Medical doctors and even psychologists sometimes are uninformed about drugs and alcohol.

Trust me on this. It happened to me. My wife of 16 years ran off with another man. Her boss of three months. I immediately contacted her parents, her gynecologist, our minister, our friends and three psychiatrists. Not one brought up drugs and alcohol. In fact, the medical professionals offered the possibility of her being depressed.

For 18 months I had no idea what was wrong with her. It wasn’t until I read a book on alcohol and drugs written by a recovering alcoholic/addict that I considered drugs and alcohol caused her dramatic behavior change. I confirmed my suspicion when I contacted the Hazelden Clinic. One of the country’s pre-eminent treatment centers.

Of course, you need to contact your physician; however, make certain your doctor is experienced with drug and alcohol problems and solutions.

Stop your teenage depression before it happens

At the beginning of this article, we identified warning signs. Unhappiness. Poor grades. Weight loss. Losing friends. Rejected you and other family members. Let’s not wait until the warning signs appear. Be proactive and get involved in your teenager’s life. That doesn’t mean being a soccer mom. Or a dad that argues teachers and coaches are incompetent.

The late Dr. Stephen Covey in his best-selling book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People,” says to treat everyone in your life like your best customer. If you don’t have a best customer, you know what it’s like to be treated like a best customer. The company that services our furnace and air conditioning treat us that way. For 20 years they treated our parents that way. So we signed on with them and have been delighted for that many years.

Get involved with your teenager? Start with respect. When you respect your son and daughter, they respect you. Encourage them to share with you what’s happening in their lives. Follow up by inquiring about what’s working. Listen. And acknowledge their successes.

Then respectfully and calmly ask if they have any challenges that trouble them. Don’t ask about their problems. That almost always causes them to shut down. Challenges is a great, non-threatening word. Listen carefully. Then acknowledge with, “Thank you. I appreciate you sharing.” Follow it with, “Let me know it’s okay to share my thoughts with you.”  Finally, thank them for listening to you and ask for their thoughts on what you shared.

Remember, every time you talk, tell your teen, “I love you. Always have. Always will.”

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