Teenage Depression: how do I know if my kid is depressed, or just a moody teen?

How do you know if your teenager is depressed or just moody? Well, let's talk about that today
on Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and
I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families to live happier lives. I lead two organizations,
Teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501c3 organization, Child and Teen Counseling, both
here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump onto Facebook Live to answer
your parenting questions. Let's answer today's. My son has definitely become a classic teenager.
He's moody, he's got attitude, and he never seems like he enjoys anything anymore. As a parent,
it's hard to know if his mood swings are the sign of something serious that we should seek help
for. How do I tell? Thank you for your question. First, as a parent of a teenager, as probably
many of you who are watching this are, having a moody teenager is pretty normal. It's been written
about through history. Shakespeare wrote about

it. The ancient Greek philosophers wrote about it. The moody teenager is just a part of the human
experience. Many of us adults might have been moody teenagers, so keep that in mind. I'm not
saying that we always take it well, because as a parent, especially when you have your first
teenager, it can really shake your world because you have this experience, this impression,
this hope, that you're gonna have this amazingly close relationship that you see in the movies
with your son or your daughter, and then they turn into a teenager, and it takes that away, and
it can really rile up a parent because it's scary. Because, oh my gosh, am I doing something wrong?
Am I losing my child? It's all those insecurities and fears that every parent has, and it's important
that we as parents are doing what we need to do to take care of ourselves so we don't project that
onto our kids. So for example, your kid is sullen and moody and kinda snarly at dinner, and it
hurts because if anyone else was like

that, you would say, hey, what's going on? But again, your 14 -year -old is 14, not a full -fledged
adult, so they're going through stuff, and instead of calling them out, what I would recommend
doing is offer love and support, kindness, acceptance. If you try to cheer them up, it's not
going to work. If you try to get them to, hey, you need to act differently, it's not going to work,
right? So just, obviously, if they're being really disrespectful and rude, you may need to
set some boundaries to protect other people's feelings, but if they're gonna be moody, they
sometimes have to be moody, and that's okay. Again, this is a big ask. It's hard for me to do, and
I'm a therapist. I talk to parents about this all the time. It's hard for me to do this with my teenager.
It's hard to do, but the more you recognize and have patience with this process, the better it
is for them, because they feel more accepted, because they don't like how they're being either.
They don't know how else to be, because

they're 14, they're 16. But how do you tell if this is a real problem? In other areas of their life,
are they doing okay? Are they approaching school how they typically approach school? Is there
a huge drop or just a minor? A minor drop may not be a big deal, but if they were getting As and Bs,
now they're getting Ds and Fs, that's significant. Are they continuing to engage in extracurricular
activities? Are they engaging in social activities, creative activities? Do they have outlets
where they are having fun in their world? If so, they may just be a moody teenager, which again,
is pretty normal. If you think that your teenager is not functioning well in their life, in other
areas of life, or they're having big angry blowups and screaming matches and dropping F -bombs,
whatever, maybe we need to start looking into getting this kid some emotional support, whether
it's a therapist, group therapy, or something to help him process what's going on, help him
better identify what he's feeling,

explore it in a safe place, and then express those feelings in a healthier way. That's kind of
what we as therapists wanna do, but there may be other areas where he can do that too. Maybe he
gets really into writing or drawing or basketball or some other thing that helps get some of
those feelings out. Again, if your kid is not getting enough sleep, again, your teenager probably
needs about nine to 10 hours sleep a night, according to research. Is he getting that? Probably
not, but sleep's a really big component to our emotional regulation, and especially for teenagers,
if they're not getting enough sleep, that could be an issue. Also, diet and exercise. I'm not
an expert in those things, but there's many studies out there, and there's a lot of common knowledge
out there that sugar and caffeine can negatively impact mood regulation. Again, sleep, exercise,
a moderate, healthy amount of exercise. What that is really depends on your kid and what they
do and how they are in their life. But

having balance, social outlets, creative outlets, physical outlets, where they are enjoying
their life. It's important that they enjoy it. Their life cannot just be homework and then video
games, and it needs to be something beyond that. So make sure you're helping nurture your children
towards having other activities where they are engaged in that, stimulate them in a positive
way. Anyways, that's our question for today. My name, again, is Kent Toussaint with Teen Therapy
Center and Child and Teen Counseling. This is Tips on Teens. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump
on your Facebook Live. If you want more of these in your Facebook, join our Facebook group, Facebook
group, Tips on Teens. And if you have a question you'd like me to answer, email us at tipsonteens
at teentherapysenter .com. Thanks again, guys, and I'll see you next Wednesday. Bye -bye.


When you have a teenager, dealing with moodiness is pretty normal. This has been true since the beginning of time. Heck, even Shakespeare wrote about moody teenagers. It’s scary for parents when their kids develop into moody teens. Parents will begin to ask themselves if they did something wrong, or fear that they’ve “lost” their child. Worse is the fear that your child may be suffering from depression, and feeling like you’re powerless to help.


So how do you know if your teen is just moody (note: we’re not making light of moodiness here either), or if you should be seeking help for depression? Parents who suspect their child may be suffering from depression need to take stock of the other areas of their kid’s life outside of home and homework. Are they doing okay in these other areas? Are they functioning well otherwise and engaging in extracurricular activities or creative outlets? If not, it may be time to seek emotional support from a therapist.

There’s more to consider. We talk about that and give you some ideas of how to respond to your teen’s moodiness in this Tips on Teens:

“My son has definitely become a classic ‘teenager.’ He’s moody, he’s got attitude, and he never seems like enjoys anything any more. As a parent, it’s hard to know if his mood swings are the signs of something serious that we should seek help for. How do I tell?”

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.