By Lindsey Anuzis, MA, LCMHCA, NCC, RBT ~ Child and Family Development
Depression and suicide can be uncomfortable, but incredibly important topics to discuss with your kids. Unfortunately, the prolonged social distancing efforts and quarantines brought on by COVID-19 have amplified and exacerbated the mental health challenges of many. Stressful life events as well as loneliness and isolation are all risk factors that can leave individuals vulnerable to depression. The CDC has reported an increase in suicide and depression rates among children and teens since the onset of COVID-19. So, it is imperative that we all remain diligent and aware of the possible warning signs of both depression and suicidal ideation. Being able to properly identify the warning signs could save a life!
Depression symptoms vary from person to person and can be difficult to identify in teens due to normal changes in behavior and emotion regulation during pubescent years. However, listed below are some typical symptoms of depression and what they can look like:
1. Feelings of emptiness, helplessness, or hopelessness
The belief that nothing will get better, or there is no way to improve or change things
2. Loss of interest in daily activities
They no longer care about former interests, social activities, or hobbies (though this can be tough due to COVID restrictions)
3. Appetite or weight changes
A change in eating habits resulting in abrupt and significant weight gain or loss
4. Sleep changes
Oversleeping, constant feelings of fatigue, or reduced sleep, waking early, or difficulty falling asleep
5. Anger or irritability
Feeling agitated, or restless. Low tolerance, and everything is likely to get on their nerves
6. Loss of energy
Constant feelings of fatigue, and feeling physically drained. This can cause smaller tasks to feel exhausting
Harsh criticism of self or guilt for perceived flaws or mistakes
8. Reckless behaviors
This can include substance use, self-harm, reckless driving or other defiant behavior
9. Concentration problems
Difficulty focusing, remembering, and indecisiveness
10. Unexplained aches and pains
Increase in physical symptoms such as stomach aches, headaches, back pain etc.
11. Thoughts of or related to suicidal ideation and death
These can be active, (I want to kill myself, and having a plan) or passive, such as I don’t want to wake up, or others would be better off without me.
Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. Constant and overwhelming feelings of hopelessness can make suicide seem like a viable option to escape and improve things. Now just because your child may exhibit one or more of these symptoms on occasion does not necessarily mean that they are depressed or suicidal. We can all go through periods when we experience a depressed mood that does not persist, such as not wanting to get out of bed or not being in the “mood” to do things. However, if you notice any of these symptoms occurring consistently in yourself, or your child, you should reach out to a licensed mental health professional.
** If you ever have any concerns about yourself, loved ones related to depression or suicidal ideation, reach out to a licensed mental health professional immediately.
Additional resources available are:
Crisis hotline: 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-273-8255 and website
OR text HOME to 741-741 to speak with a crisis counselor who is available 24/7
National Suicide hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE or (1-800-784-2433)
Lindsey Anuzis, MA, LCMHCA, NCC, RBT is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate as well as a Registered Behavior Technician at the Midtown and Pineville locations of Child & Family Development. Lindsey obtained her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from High Point University in High Point, NC and her Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, NC. She provides ongoing therapy services to preschoolers through young adults to address concerns related to mood, behavior, and social skills. Her areas of clinical interest include stress and coping skills, life transitions, grief and loss, self-esteem, identity concerns, bullying and relationship issues, wellness counseling with a mind body emphasis and trauma. Contact us to schedule an intake appointment with Lindsey today.
Child & Family Development
11940 Carolina Place Parkway, Suite 200
Charlotte, NC 28134