Depression is a well-known condition in adults. Surprisingly, though, many young children and teens also suffer from depression.\nThe symptoms of depression can be aggravated by stressful factors like changes in routine, academic pressures, and new teachers. Mandy Fauble, PhD, executive director of Safe Harbor Behavioral Health of UPMC Hamot, says there a connection between depression and back-to-school season.\nLearn more about Mental Health Services for Children at the Safe Harbor Behavioral Health Program at UPMC.\n“Change can be hard for anyone, even adults,” Fauble says. “Several factors can make this more challenging, like the transition to earlier bedtimes and anxiety about a new school.”\nEven though depression in children and teens can happen on any occasion, there is a higher risk during the back-to-school season. “Students with mental health concerns, like ADHD or Autism Spectrum Disorder, are also more likely to have a tougher time switching routines,” Fauble explains.\nWarning Signs for Parents\nAs a parent, you may wonder what the signs of depression in school are. Moreover, should you bring it up?\nThe quickest way to identify depression in teens is to be aware of clues and ask questions. According to Fauble, you should pay close attention to the following warning signs:\n\nSudden drop in grades\nChange in sleep patterns or the desire to be alone\nLack of focus or forgetfulness\nIrritability\nSelf-harm or change in hygiene\nGiving items away\nSuicidal thoughts or increased mentions of death\n\nOther clues of depression in teens are “lack of appetite, alcohol or drug use, and negative self-talk (‘nothing I do is right\/nothing matters’),” Fauble adds. If your child exhibits symptoms of depression in school, it’s important that you connect your child with a health care professional for support.\nThe good news? As a parent, you can minimize the link between depression and back-to-school for your own child this year.\nSteps Parents Can Take\n“Just like we help kids learn about brushing their teeth, hygiene, and exercise, start talking about health and wellness, including mental health early on,” Fauble recommends. “If we talk to young people about coping skills and what to do when they don’t feel good emotionally, we have created a channel to talk about it more easily as more intense experiences arise,” Fauble says.\nWhen the back-to-school transition looms on the horizon, Fauble points out ways to get in front of the jitters. “Many schools now offer ways to connect in the summer to ease anxiety around meeting new people or learning a new route to class,” she says.\nFinally, Fauble suggests adjusting bedtime routines a few weeks before school starts, and discussing any peer concerns your child might have. “It’s a good time for parents to process with their children and provide strategies for how to handle anything that comes up,” she says.\nMake mental health and wellness a part of your conversation with your kids. Ask questions to help your child feel confident, well-adjusted, and prepared for this back-to-school season, and throughout the school year.\nIf your child expresses thoughts of suicide, stay with them and contact a trained health care professional through a crisis hotline, such as Safe Harbor Behavioral Health (814-456-2014 or 1-800-300-9558) or a local emergency room.\nLearn more about Mental Health Services for Children at the Safe Harbor Behavioral Health Program at UPMC.