Detachment and identity issues force adopted teens to struggle with an extra set of problems that the average teenager never faces. Due to this added pressure and confusion, adopted teens are highly susceptible to one of the most common and damaging teenage afflictions, depression.
Most teenagers are moody from time to time. But about 20 percent suffer serious mental health problems, including depression and anxiety disorder. If untreated, the consequences can be serious – even fatal. An influential government-appointed medical panel is urging doctors to routinely screen all American teens for depression — a bold step that acknowledges that nearly 2 million teens are affected by this debilitating condition. Most are undiagnosed and untreated.
What should parents watch for? Keep your eyes open for these troubling symptoms:
- Disturbances in sleeping patterns-insomnia, or excessive sleep
- Lack of energy – your teen seems tired all the time.
- Feelings of guilt and/or worthlessness
- Loss of interest in activities he or she once enjoyed, such as sports, school activities, friendships, etc.
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Change in appetite – eating significantly more or less than normal
- Withdraw from friends and family members
- Frequent outbursts of anger or frustration
- Crying for no reason
- Thoughts of suicide
Don’t jump to conclusions, but if your child expresses any of these symptoms for a long period-up to six months – he or she may be in need of help. The roots of teenage depression usually stem from life changing events like the death of a family member, breaking up with a significant other, or the separation anxiety and loss caused by adoption. It is important for parents to let their adopted children know its ok to feel bad, and they are available to help cope with their problems. Never make your adopted teen feel bad for depressed feelings, but let them know that there is a way out and that a parenting authority is available to help. Talk to your child about what you’ve observed and consult your family doctor to explore treatment options.