There is a huge difference in a teenager who is a bit moody and isolated from the family and a teenager that is depressed. Teenage depression is a serious matter that can impact the entire life of a teenager. Untreated depression in teens can lead to the use of drugs and alcohol, self inflicted harm, teen pregnancy, violent behavior, and even suicide. A parent however, should not feel that they cannot do anything to change it because there are a lot of things that can be done to support your teen as they get through depression.
Educating Yourself on Teen Depression
All too often you will hear about the misconceptions of teenagers and depression. Many parents and teachers get it confused with “typical teenage behaviors”. Not every teen is depressed, but it is important that as a parent that you are aware of the signs. Again, a teenager who experiences occasional mood swings or negative behavior is not necessarily depressed. Depression in teenagers can destroy their personality, outlook on life, and cause an extreme amount of sadness and despair.
Surprisingly out of five teenagers suffering from depression, only one of those will receive help for their troubles. Depression is treatable, but it is the responsibility of the parents, teachers, or caregivers, to provide them access to the right support. The first step to getting your teen help is recognizing the signs.
Signs and Symptoms of Teen Depression
Teenage years are certainly very trying. Teens have to cope with a wide variety of pressures including finding their true self, fitting in, and dealing with the changes that puberty brings. This is when they’re transitioning from a child to an adult, and the transition for some, is very difficult. Since teenagers seem to be naturally moody, it can be complicated for parents and educators to notice the signs of depression. Here are a few signs that might help you:
- Lack of concentration
- Suicidal thoughts
- Extreme fatigue or lack of sleep
- Feeling worthless
- Withdrawn from the world
- Spells of crying
- Anger, rage, or hostility
Again, it can be tricky to determine whether you have typical teenage behavior on yoru hands or teenage depression. So a great indicator for parents to pay attention to is how long these feelings go on for. If it’s been going on for a while and your teen has completely changed from their usual self, it’s time to seek help.
The Effects of Teen Depression
If you thought that the most effect depression would have on your teen is an ever changing mood, you’re mistaken. Teen depression can begin to affect a lot more than just their mood and if not treated right away, could result in more violent acts. Some ways in which depressed teens act out is:
- Declining grades – when your teen is depressed and unable to concentrate, this will decrease their level of productivity in their schoolwork.
- Leaving Home – often teens who are depressed feel that they would be better off alone. They then try to run away from home.
- Drugs and Alcohol – As a way to rid themselves of the pain some teenagers will opt to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
- Lowered Self Esteem – When depressed, teenagers are more likely to feel unattractive.
- Addiction to the internet – as a way to get away from “reality” some teens will become more involved on the internet.
- Negative behaviors – Teens who are not treated for depression will begin to act out by doing daring things.
- Violence – There are some teens that will take matters into their own hands and resort to violence.
Signs That Your Teen Might Commit Suicide
Many parents believe that when their teen threatens to kill themselves that they’re only trying to get attention. While this is sometimes the case, it is still important that you don’t ignore the threats. More and more teens have been successful in taking their own lives, which is why educators and parents need to take heed to the warnings. If your teen uses drugs and alcohol, they should be closely watched as thoughts of suicide can turn into actions without notice. Other warning signs include:
- Communicating about suicide
- Comments that they’d be better off dead
- Talking in a positive manner about death
- Participating in more reckless behavior
- Speaking to others as if it’s the last time
- Writing about death
- Locating medications and other contraptions to kill themselves.
Getting Your Teens to Talk About Depression
For a lot of parents, getting their teen to tell them how their day was is challenging enough. So you can only imagine how complicated it must be to get a teenager to talk about depression. However, if you suspect that your teen is suffering from depression, you need to try encouraging them to talk about it. The sooner you can get your teen to open up, the better chances you have of identifying depression and getting help. When you approach the teen, be sure that you’re coming from a place of love and support, and never talk down or judge them. Encourage them to share their stories and offer ways to get through it. If your teen is not willing to talk to you, try finding an older mentor for them that they might open up to instead.
Treatment for Depression in Teens
If left untreated, depression can be very detrimental to a teen’s life as this does not go away on its own. The moment you notice signs of depression you should schedule an appointment with a mental health professional. Going to a psychiatrist is a great idea as long as they specialize in teen depression. Be sure that when you select a professional that your teen is comfortable with opening up to them. Selecting a professional that does not provide the comfort your teen needs could end up being a waste of time.
It is important to also talk with the specialist about treatment options for your teen. If they recommend medications, you want to make sure that you find out what other processes will be done in correlation with the medications. There are several different methods that can be used including individual and group sessions or family therapy if that is necessary. Getting an array of treatment options is best for combating depression completely.
Beware of Antidepressants for Teens
While medication is sometimes needed for severe cases of depression, there is still some warnings that parents should be aware of. There are some risks and side effects involved and therefore before starting the medication you should weigh the pros and cons. Some antidepressants are known to stifle the brain development, and even increase suicidal thoughts. Look out for these signs while taking antidepressants:
- Thinking of killing themselves even more
- Tried and failed at committing suicide
- Increased anxiety
- Aggressive behavior
Helping Your Teen Deal with Depression Treatment
Your role as your teen learns to heal from depression is to be their support system whenever they need it. You need to make sure that your teen knows you’re in their corner and that you love and care for them. Here are some ways to display your love and support.
- Stay Calm – Depression is not going to be healed overnight. As your teen goes through treatment, there are going to be good days and bad days. Try to stay calm and remember that it is all part of the process.
- Encourage them to socialize – When your teen is isolated, they are only creating an atmosphere for depression. Therefore, encourage them to get out and do things with positive people.
- Stay involved – As they’re getting treatment, make sure that you stay involved with it. If medications are taken, be sure your teen is doing their part to take them timely. If you’re to attend therapy sessions, make sure you show up to support.
The road to recovery could be a long one and you cannot force them out of depression. All they need right now is to know that you are there for them no matter how rough the road gets.
It is also important to remember during this time that you must take care of yourself. If you’re not eating right or getting enough rest, you too could fall into depression which will only make things worse. Be sure that you get the support that you need from friends and family as depression is nothing to battle alone. Also make sure that if you have other children, you take time to be with them so that they understand the dynamics of what is happening. More important, never blame yourself for what has happened, teen depression is very common and could be the result of many factors. All you can do is love your teen and let them know you care.