It's no mystery that teenagers face real problems on a daily basis. During the most awkward growth stages of their lives, teens are expected to cope with hormones, puberty, social and parental forces, work and school pressures, as well as internal struggles. Unprecedented stresses regarding college and career confusion leave teens feeling overwhelmed, not to mention absentee parents in this generation of divorce.
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Teenage boys and girls alike suffer through numerous body changes. Some feel too fat, too skinny, too short, too tall and spend time wishing their curly hair was straight or vice versa. As a teen’s body changes, a teen’s self-image changes. Trouble adjusting can affect self-esteem and body image (the way you feel about your own physical appearance). This all links to how others, particularly schoolmates, will view you.
Puberty changes, combined with a natural desire to fit in, tempt teenagers to compare themselves with others. The facts about how individuals experience puberty differently do not stop teens from comparing themselves with people around them or those seen on television, in movies or in magazines. Family life and parental criticism affect a teen’s ability to develop positive self-esteem.
People who experience negative or hurtful comments about their appearance also promote poor body image and self-esteem.
Bullying affects millions of teenagers, causing thousands to fear going to school each day. Because adults in their lives don’t always witness the bullying, the children may not understand exactly how extreme it can get.
Appearance and social status are two of the prime reasons teens are bullied, because the bully decides who fits in and who doesn’t. Some bullies physically attack their targets, while others take psychological control through gossiping or repeatedly spewing verbal insults. Cyberbullying is the latest evolution in bullying, consisting of cruel instant, email and text messages. Bullying in any form is relentless, causing a teen to live in a state of constant fear.
Bullied teens find their schoolwork and health suffering. They may contemplate suicide after dealing with bouts of depression or anxiety. Perhaps surprisingly, bullies themselves are at risk, too. Bullying of any kind is violence and often leads to more violent behavior in the adult years. Teen bullies may eventually experience rejection by their peers, leading to lost friendships and depression as they age.
Teenagers may exhibit depression symptoms in various ways. Irritability and quickness to anger do not always trigger parents to recognize depression, as these also occur on a typical teenager’s bad day. When paired with declined interest in activities, changes in sleep patterns and eating habits, preferred isolation and dropping grades, a parent should intervene immediately.
Without approaching a teen negatively about whether or not he is in a state of depression, parents need to listen to, comfort, love and accept their child. It's vital that teens feel validated in their thoughts because what they are experiencing is a very real part of their lives. There should be no judgment or criticism from parents.
If this is not possible, parents need to seek counseling for their teen. Once a teenager suffering from depression begins talking about his troubles, it is pertinent to let him continue talking without anyone interrupting or controlling the conversation. Ignoring the signs of teenage depression is like playing a deadly game of Russian roulette.