Q: I am worried that my daughter is depressed. Lately, she’s been really quiet and just keeps to herself in her room. I try to get her to come out with me and do things but she won’t. How do you know if it’s just a phase or if it’s something more?

A: TEENS CAN EXHIBIT a whole range of behaviours outside their “norm” when going through adolescence. Some of these behaviours are totally normal, and some demonstrate it might be time to seek help from a professional counsellor or therapist. Research shows that some of the most common symptoms of depression can include isolation, low mood, increased fatigue and feelings of hopelessness.

Since normal teen behaviour can sometimes closely resemble this (and even share some of these symptoms), sometimes it is hard to know when your teen is in trouble and needs help. I’d recommend talking to your daughter (from an honest, open, and loving place) to see how she feels about her current state. There may be external factors that are impacting her mood that you aren’t aware of—mean girls, a failed relationship or even trouble in some of her classes. In either case, setting up an appointment for your daughter with a counsellor or health professional like a psychotherapist or psychologist, or even your family doctor may allow her to share her feelings with someone who is outside the family structure. Professionals are generally trained to spot symptoms of something more concerning and this may be able to give you peace of mind when it comes to your
daughter’s health and safety. Good luck! ■

Kimberly Moffit is one of Canada’s most experienced relationship experts and provides practical advice about parenting and psychological topics. She’s a regular speaker for Queen’s University’s MBA and Women in Leadership Programs, and a frequent lecturer at the University of Waterloo.