You’re Not Alone: 5 Signs Your Friend Might Be Struggling with Depression

In the whirlwind of teenage years, it’s easy to miss the subtle signs that a friend is struggling. Adolescence is a time of great change and challenges, and for some, it can be overwhelmingly hard to navigate.

Depression among teenagers is more common than many realize, but it doesn’t always look like you might expect. It can wear the mask of a smile or show up as a change in behavior that’s easy to attribute to just “teenage moodiness.”

Knowing what to look out for can make all the difference. Here are five signs your friend might be battling depression and ways you can offer your support.

1. Change in Sleep Patterns

Teens love to stay up late, but a drastic change in sleep patterns might be a cause for concern. If your friend is sleeping much more than usual, or on the other hand, complains about insomnia or is constantly tired, it could be a sign of depression. Depression can significantly disrupt sleep, leading to a vicious cycle of fatigue and worsening mood.

How to Help: Encourage your friend to establish a healthy nighttime routine, minimizing screen time before bed, and relaxing activities. Sometimes, just lending an ear about what’s keeping them up at night can be a huge support.

2. Loss of Interest in Favorite Activities

If your friend suddenly seems disinterested in hobbies or activities they once loved, take notice. Depression can sap the joy out of things that used to bring happiness, making everything feel dull or pointless.

How to Help: Try to engage your friend in activities they used to enjoy, but be patient and understanding if they’re not up for it. Sometimes, suggesting new, low-pressure activities can also help.

3. Withdrawal from Social Situations

While it’s normal for teens to seek some alone time, withdrawing from friends and family altogether is a red flag. If your friend consistently avoids social gatherings they would have previously enjoyed or you notice they’re spending a lot of time alone, it might be time to reach out.

How to Help: Let your friend know you’re there for them, without pressure to open up. Invite them to low-key, stress-free activities where they don’t feel the pressure of socializing too much but can still enjoy being out of the house.

4. Changes in Academic Performance

A sudden drop in grades or loss of interest in schoolwork can be a sign of depression. The lack of focus, motivation, and energy that often accompanies depression can make keeping up with schoolwork feel impossible.

How to Help: Offer to study together or help with homework. Sometimes, the problem feels less daunting when you don’t have to face it alone. Encourage your friend to speak with a teacher they trust; many are willing to provide support once they understand the situation.

5. Expressing Feelings of Hopelessness or Worthlessness

This might be the most direct sign that a friend is struggling with depression. Expressions of hopelessness, extreme guilt, or worthlessness are serious cries for help that should not be ignored.

How to Help: It’s crucial to listen without judgment and encourage them to talk to a trusted adult or mental health professional. Let them know that there is help available and that depression is treatable.

Being a teenager is hard enough without having to face depression alone. If you think your friend is struggling, the best thing you can do is be there for them.

Sometimes, just knowing someone cares can be a powerful antidote to the isolation depression brings. Encourage them to seek professional help, but remember, you’re not their therapist. Your role is to be a friend – someone who cares, listens, and supports them through their journey. 

At Hope Social, we’re here to help with teen mental wellness in Chandler, Arizona. Together, we can break the silence and stigma surrounding mental health and show those who are struggling that they are not alone.

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