There are recent reports concerning whether teen Facebook users experience an increase in depression. Researchers disagree whether this is a new type of depression or an extension of existing forms of depression. Teens with low self-esteem, school stress and family stress are vulnerable to depression.
The number of friends they have on Facebook, their status as well as the status of their friends, and the constantly updated photos may add to a teen feeling self critical and not ‘popular’ enough. It can also add to feeling ostracized, bullied, or teased.
Social networks help teens feel more connected. Social networks have become the place teens “hang out.” However, if that teen does not feel like they measure up to other teens; it can become a world of loneliness and a constant reminder of perceived shortcomings. In extreme cases, suicide notes have been posted on Facebook, which demonstrate the powerful connection teens feel toward their virtual and real friends. Social networks offer teens a skewed view of the real world and they don’t have the brain development to understand this is not the real world.
If the teen’s family is not engaged with the teen, the social network takes on a much more potent place in the teen’s world. In fact, it may become the child’s world. Pediatricians are now encouraging parents to talk with their kids about being online and how to recognize depression caused by social media, cyber bullying, sexting and other online risks.
Below are ten signs your teen may be depressed:
- Loss of interest in activities, hobbies and other things they used to be very interested in.
- More isolated—never spend time with their friends anymore.
- Sleeping all the time or up in the middle of the night because they cannot sleep.
- A loss or increase in appetite.
- Notable weight loss or gain.
- Lethargic or flat mood.
- More irritable or easily frustrated.
- A downward trend in grades.
- Not wanting to go to school.
- Weepy, labile moods.
If you see any of these signs with your teen and they last more than two weeks, it is time to talk to your teen and make an appointment with your pediatrician for an evaluation of depression. Depression is insidious and many times teens won’t know they are depressed until the depression lifts. Depression can kill, but it is also curable.
Below are signs your child may be the victim of cyber bullying. Please note many of these signs mimic signs of depression. Parents should intervene right away when they see the below signs. Waiting two weeks may be too long.