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Your OCD Study Coach

Carol Edward's OCD Topics for therapists, coaches, mentors and anyone interested in learning more about obsessive compulsive disorder and related problems.

Tips to help your depressed teen...

Signs to look out for


In spotting the signs of depression, you may notice physical changes such as sleep disturbances, appetite changes (eating more or less than usual), gaining or losing weight, complaining of headaches, stomach aches, joint and muscle aches. During a physical state, a teenager’s thinking processes can often get confused, meaning they are unable to understand their shifting mood states; thus, their ability to cope environmentally (e.g., at school) is reduced. It can be seen that while this condition causes physical symptoms, and on rare occasions has physical causes, it is not a disease, yet is often unpreventable except with medication.

Variation in moods

Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anger, agitation and despair occur when depressed. Variation in moods can change throughout the day for a teen, which might be worse in the morning yet improve later in the day; or vice-versa. You may see your teen seemingly apathetic and thus losing interest in school projects and the activities and hobbies they used to enjoy.


Also be on the look out for cognitive symptoms which include a youngster’s experiencing persistent negative beliefs about themselves and their abilities. Cognitive symptoms can slow down thoughts, making concentrating on tasks difficult. Taking in central coherence during class and remembering and making decisions can also be part of depressed moods, so something else to consider if you find your young person’s grades suffering.

Social/motivational symptoms

You may notice your teen’s lack of social activity deteriorating. Hanging out with friends or visiting/receiving visitors starts to become a struggle. Also, withdrawing from immediate family where your teen will spend much of their time in their room starts to become apparent; and further, showing a lack of motivation when getting ready for school or out-of-school activities. Teenagers may also appear to lose interest in close relationships.

“Early Warning Systems” 

These are factors that can help you support your teen — that is, by evaluating why they are feeling a particular way. For example, if your youngster starts to feel low in the afternoon he might think that his mood will worsen and never get better, where in fact it might actually mean he had little sleep the night before. In terms of understanding and using the “early warning system” you can help your teen learn how to grasp the difference between feelings and facts, and in which to determine what it is that caused their mood change in the first place. Subsequently, you can observe how to question key factors that include their environment, people/friends, physical, emotional, negative lifestyle, medication etc. and to then problem solve.

Depression could be caused by biological factors, biochemical factors, anxiety factors and cognitive/behavioural factors. Plus, once the key to an early warning system is found, a depressed teen can then consider how to manage their moods.  The above factors are discussed in more detail in How To Manage Clinical Depression with OCD and GAD and discusses further major depressive disorder and ways a therapist helps support a teen/adult manage their symptoms.


“Early Warning Systems” are factors that can help you support your clinically depressed teen by evaluating why their moods are low and to determine if certain factors are contributing to what initially seems to be a more serious outlook. Subsequently, they can then be helped to manage and monitor their moods and overlapping problems, which might include anxiety disorders, such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Carol Edwards © 2016. Updated Jan. 2019

Disclaimer: This document is information-based only; therefore if your child/teen is experiencing any of the symptoms discussed in this article please consult with your medical practitioner for their advice, and before going ahead with suggested strategies. 

Posted 10 weeks ago