Teen depression is more common than you may realize. Here’s a parent’s guide to recognizing signs of potential depression in their teen and how to help a teen with depression.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional nor do I speak on behalf of one. I’m simply sharing the knowledge I have gained through some local training from our school district and some helpful resources for parents struggling with this very serious issue to make other parents more aware of this problem. If you or your child have concerns AT ALL, please consult with your medical professional, school counselor, or therapist as soon as possible. There IS help!
Today I’m going to veer a little off topic today because this topic has struck too close to home far too many times. I sent out an email to my readers about this topic and got a lot of interest in having more information, so I decided to create a post about it to make sure that anyone who wants it can find it.
How To Help A Teen With Depression
Teen depression is a severe condition that is more than just sadness,
moodiness, or a hormone-promoted adolescent rite of passage. It’s a painful illness. And it can affect a teen’s physical health,
relationships, ability to succeed, and even their desire to live.
The medical community once thought depression affected only adults. But the risk of depression can begin in childhood or early teen years and increase through the mid-20s.
According to a survey, around 8 percent of teens experience depression every year. Teen Depression can cause difficulty in school, difficulty in relationships, and decreased enjoyment in life.
Depression in teens is a condition with many causes and forms. It’s a
disorder of your teen’s mood or emotion.
However, the situation is treatable with specific medication and psychotherapy provided in teen treatment centers. That may sound intense. It IS, but it’s less intense and difficult than living with depression.
I highly encourage parents to educate themselves about teen depression disorder.
What Is Teen Depression?
The mental and emotional disorder is known as teen depression. It’s medically no different from adult depression. However, the symptoms in teens may exhibit themselves in different ways than in adults.
The teen years can be tough anyway, and depression affects teenagers far
more often than many of you realize. It is predicted that one in five adolescents will go through depression when teens receive help.
Teen depression goes beyond moodiness. It’s a severe health problem that impacts every aspect of a teen’s life. Luckily, it is treatable, and parents CAN help. Their love, guidance, and support can go a long way towards helping their teen overcome depression and get back to finding enjoyment in life.
While occasional bad moods are expected during teenage years, depression is something different. Depression can damage the essence of your teen’s personality, causing an overwhelming sense of sadness and anger.
Teen Depression Statistics
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among people ages 15-24 and has tripled over the past 60 years. In fact, more teens die from suicide than from heart disease, birth defects, cancer, pneumonia and more – combined.
It is estimated that there are 5,400 teen suicide attempts in the US every day.
How To Help A Depressed Teen: Know Signs And Symptoms
Unlike adults, who can seek assistance independently, teenagers depend on parents to recognize their sufferings and get them the help they need. But that is not always easy. Teens with depression don’t necessarily look sad.
Instead, anger and agitation may be the most appealing symptoms.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends regular screening for teen depression for adolescents 12 and up by their pediatrician.
Every parent needs to look for the below signs and symptoms from the National Institute of Mental Health to understand their teen’s depression.
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Anger and irritability
- Frequent crying and tearfulness
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Loss of interest in any activity
- Poor school performance
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Death and suicidal thoughts
- Poor performance in school
Learn more about teen depression and how to help a teen with depression in this video.
Types Of Teen Depression
There are two common types of depression found in teens- major depressive and dysthymic disorder.
Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder, also called major depression, is defined by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, and eat.
Depression prevents a person from functioning correctly. An episode of major depression may occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but more often, it happens again throughout a person’s life.
The disorder, also called dysthymia, is characterized by long-term but less severe symptoms that may not disable a person can prevent one from functioning well. Teens with dysthymic may also experience one or more episodes of major depression during their lifetimes.
Causes Of Depression In Teens
Although there are many causes for teen depression, the following factors are known to be some of the common reasons behind teen depression.
Differences In The Brain
It has been studied that the brains of the teen are structurally different as compared to adults. Teen with depression can also suffer from hormone differences and different levels of neurotransmitters.
These are vital chemicals in the brain that determine how brain cells
communicate with each other. They play a crucial part in regulating
mood and behavior. Moreover, a low level of these neurotransmitters may contribute to depression.
Traumatic Events In Life
Many children do not have a well coping mechanism, so a traumatic event that happened in their life can contribute to an adverse lasting impression. Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse can have lasting effects on a child’s brain, resulting in depression.
Depression has a biological component, and it can pass down from parents to their children. Teen who have one or more close relatives, specifically parents, are more likely to have depression themselves.
A Learned Pattern Of Negative Thoughts
Teens regularly exposed to depressed thinking, particularly from parents, can also develop depression. They might lack positive examples of how to overcome challenges.
How To Diagnose Teen Depression
If the above symptoms occur in your teen, then your teen might be coping with depression. However, when teen depression is suspected, the doctor will perform specific tests and exams, including the ones mentioned below.
The doctor might carry a physical exam and ask in-depth questions about your teen’s health to understand what may be causing depression. In some situations, depression may be linked to an underlying physical health issue.
The doctor might collect your teen’s blood to complete blood count or test your teen’s thyroid to ensure it’s functioning correctly.
A doctor or mental health professional can talk with your teen about thoughts, feelings, and behavior, including a questionnaire. These tests will help to diagnose and check for any complications.
How To Help A Teen With Depression: More Resources
If you want more information for helping a depressed teen, please check out these helpful resources. It could save the life of someone you love.
- Robbie’s Hope – a site geared specifically toward teens
- Safe Place
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline (available 24/7): 1-800-273-8255
- You Matter
- The Trevor Project
- Stop Bullying
How To Treat Teen Depression
The treatment of teen depression depends on the type and severity of the teen’s depression symptoms. Below are some of the best treatment options that can help your teen to live a happy life.
Talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy are often excellent initial treatments for mild to moderate cases of depression in teens.
Group therapy can be effective for teens because teens connect with another teen that shares and understands their struggles and develops support beyond their immediate families and close friends.
Certain antidepressant medications like selective serotonin reuptake
inhibitors can help adolescents diagnosed with major depressive disorder.
A physician should carefully evaluate a teen being treated for major depressive disorder to determine whether the medication is necessary.
It is worth noting that, antidepressant medicine does come with risks, and the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about SSRI medications for children and adolescents.
How To Help Your Teen
As parents, we can feel clueless and helpless when our kids are going through challenges and struggles. How do you start to help your teen? In addition to getting medical help, here’s what you can do:
- Learn the warning signs
- Take your child seriously – if your child says anything about wanting it all to be over or wanting to die or anything related, don’t assume they are saying that to get attention.
- Listen with empathy and provide support
- Don’t keep suicide a secret
How To Help A Teen With Depression: Final Thoughts
Along with the above treatment, parents must provide support at home. Teen depression is a severe issue that needs proper support, so parents need to help their teens recover from depression.
Parents should focus on their teen’s listening, make time for them, confront social isolation, offer them a healthy diet, and prioritize exercise.
This is just a very basic overview from another mom about teen depression. Remember, if you have ANY concerns at all, please reach out to a professional to learn more about how to help a teen with depression.