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Is your teen depressed after your divorce?

Divorce can be a very painful and it is very easy to get so wrapped up in your own recovery that you may not see that your children are suffering. Teenage depression and behavior changes after a divorce are quite common.
  • When parents split, unless and until the custodial parent finds another partner to help out with the house and the family responsibilities, that parent is  now living the life a single parent. Teenagers are often relied upon to take up adult responsibilities that they did not have before. This may mean babysitting younger siblings, more household chores, or a driving teen becoming the “taxi” for younger siblings.
  • Teens are old enough to understand what is going on and you may have confided in your adolescent some very adult experiences that you are going through. Teenagers may seem old enough to process these experiences, but they still need the safety and relational security of their parents.
  • Where pre-divorce parents were splitting household costs, in post-divorce life each parent is often paying for their own household costs. Just as money may have caused a lot of the problems in your marriage and subsequent divorce, money or lack of money can affect your teenager.  Your teen may become angry and resentful or sad and depressed.
  • Teens are already going through immense hormonal changes that makes becoming an adult confusing and scary. When you compound that with a divorce, the emotional highs and lows may be too much for your teen to know how to handle.

Most teens will recover from the depression as time passes and your post-divorce family develops a new family routine. Some teens begin to engage in risky behavior and it is important to seek professional help.

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WARNING signs of depression:

  • Feeling deep sadness or hopelessness.
  • Lack of energy.
  • Loss of pleasure or interest in activities that once excited the teen.
  • Anxiety and panic.
  • Turmoil, worry and irritability. The teen may brood or lash out in anger because of the distress he or she feels.
  • Difficulty organizing, concentrating or remembering.
  • Negative views of life and the world.
  • Feeling worthless and guilty. The teen may feel stupid, ugly or bad.
  • Drastic changes in appetite or weight.
  • Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep or sleeping too much.
  • Sluggishness. A depressed teen often talks, reacts and walks slower than other teens.
  • Avoiding and withdrawing from friends and family.
  • Restlessness. The restlessness brought on by depression may lead to behaviors such as fidgeting or acting up in class.
  • Self-mutilation and suicidal thoughts.

Seek out professional help if your teen is depressed.

Steps that you and your ex can take to minimize harm:

  • Don’t talk negatively about the other parent in front of the children. Make sure other adults adhere to this rule, as well.
  • Don’t use your child as a messenger.
  • Don’t interrogate your children with regard to the conduct, habits, social activities, etc. of the other parent.
  • Don’t use your child as a weapon against the other parent.
  • Don’t use your child as a confidant for adult issues that they are not ready to process.

If the custodial parent is unwilling or unable to create a safe and nurturing environment, then a change in residential custody may be appropriate.

Chicago Family Law Group, LLC can help you with your custody change. Contact us for a free consultation.

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