This is a common problem that I have seen come up many times with both boys and girls who are completing high school and taking on the responsibilities and life changes of becoming young women and young men. There are a number of potential reasons why your daughter may be experiencing a heightened state of stress and even perhaps some mild depression.

As you know, many different forces converge on young people as they complete their high school careers. Finishing coursework and maintaining good academic performance toward the end of the senior year can be a challenge.  Motivation starts to wane, thoughts of the future take center stage, and I’ve heard a number of seniors talk about their anxieties about starting college.  While there is certainly an increase in excitement and anticipation about taking the next big step in her life, your daughter may also be starting to grieve the losses that go along with completing this part of her life.

It can be really difficult to separate from long-term friends, give up the familiar routines of school and life at home, and to give up meaningful roles she has held in the school community.  The loss of her roles in sports teams and student governance are real and they mean starting over in a new environment where she will have to prove herself and find her place all over again.

While some young people initiate discussions with their parents about their stresses, others try to handle it on their own and deal with the stress internally. If your daughter has trouble initiating conversations with you about difficult feelings, it could be quite helpful to set aside some uninterrupted time to talk with her at the end of the evening or sometime on a weekend.  It’s fine to ask, but be sensitive to the fact that she may only be ready to share some of her concerns with you and not all of what she is thinking and feeling.

You might ask her if she is willing to talk with you more during the next couple of months to let you in on what is bothering her. If this is not comfortable for her, ask her if she would like to talk to someone else (e.g. a counselor) a few times for extra support while she is moving through this transition.  In addition, it is wise to keep an eye out for signs of worsening symptoms that may indicate depression.  Most life transitions result in levels of stress that can lead to temporary problems with appetite, sleep and so on, but sometimes the stress becomes overwhelming and can lead to actual depression.  Chances are good that your daughter is simply going through a normal life transition. Certainly, it is likely that graduating and having the summer to prepare for college can be a much more relaxed time for her and for both of you.