Anxiety is prevalent among this generation of teens, and as a parent, it’s understandable that you want to be there for your child if he or she experiences any form of anxiety. According to the Child Mind Institute, anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental health disorders that children and teens experience, and “Nearly one in three adolescents (31.9%) will meet criteria for an anxiety disorder by the age of 18.”
Mental illness is something that many people in our society cope with every day. Depression and anxiety are among the most prevalent, and if you don’t struggle with it, you probably know or love someone who does. These mental illnesses can also be easy to hide, leaving people to suffer in silence when they need support from their loved ones.
It’s important to learn the early signs of anxiety and depression for two big reasons. First, you can more easily spot the signs in your loved ones who might need your help. Second, you can recognize the signs in yourself and take the necessary steps to get the help you need.
Here are 6 early signs of anxiety and depression you should know:
1. Extended Periods of Low Energy
It’s completely normal to feel tired. Life gets crazy and sometimes a good night’s sleep is rare, but when you feel completely exhausted all the time and you don’t have the energy to do things you would normally love, it can be an early sign of depression.
This can also be something to look out for if you suspect a loved one could be experiencing symptoms of depression. If your friends are constantly canceling plans because they’re too tired to go out or they seem less energetic than normal, you may want to reach out to them and offer your love and support.
2. Pulling Away From Loved Ones
People who have depression tend to withdraw from their friends and family members. This can happen for various reasons – not enough energy to keep up with relationships, focusing on the pain they’re feeling, or feelings of worthlessness and lack of value. If you have a loved one who has been pulling away lately, it’s important to reach out to them and let them know of your love and appreciation for the role they play in your life.
This also applies to individuals who have social anxiety. People who struggle with this have a difficult time making conversation and being in large groups, so being aware and understanding of this type of circumstance can help you be there for your loved one in the way they need you.
3. Feeling On Edge
You might notice that your friend is quick to snap at you and is easily irritated – or you might notice yourself feeling jumpy, nervous, or like something bad is about to happen. These are all symptoms of anxiety and can cause you to feel on edge. When you notice this happening, there could be something deeper going on that needs to be acknowledged.
4. Changes in Weight and/or Appetite
This is important to notice in people who might have depression and/or anxiety. When you’re sad, worried, or uneasy, it’s natural to have a change in appetite, whether you eat more or less than you normally would. But when your appetite changes for long periods of time, your weight is almost guaranteed to fluctuate and can be a direct indicator of your mental health.
5. Extreme Lack of Motivation
It’s easy to feel unmotivated with mundane tasks or things you don’t want to do, and that’s completely normal. But when you have a mental illness such as depression or anxiety, things that you once found exciting, important, and motivating lose their appeal and nothing seems to matter. This can present itself in many ways, such as a drop in grades, a decline in job performance, and the lack of motivation to finish projects you were once excited about or need to complete.
If you suspect that your child or coworker might be suffering from a mental illness, this can be a really good thing to look at. If your kids’ grades have dropped, have a discussion about why that might be. If you notice your coworker struggling to complete tasks, offer help and a listening ear. Noticing these small things can make a big difference.
6. Pessimism Consistently Replacing Optimism
When you’re looking for signs of depression in a loved one or in yourself, pessimism replacing optimism can be an indicator that something is wrong. When people who are generally optimistic start to become pessimistic about the future, things they used to love, or lose hope of better things to come, it can be a sign that they’re struggling with feelings of depression and could need help.
It’s completely normal to feel pessimistic from time to time, especially when difficult situations arise or big life changes occur. But it’s important to remember that it can be an early sign of depression when the pessimism takes over and clouds all of your thoughts.
Knowing the early signs of these mental illnesses can allow you to help your friends, family, or other loved ones who might be struggling, and when you notice them in yourself, you can also get the help you need to heal from anxiety and/or depression.