Depression In Teenagers Can Be Especially Dangerous
Depression is common: The World Health Organization estimates that on any given day, more than one in every 20 Americans is depressed. A major depressive episode isn’t just a single bad day rather, psychologists define it as a sustained loss of interest or lack of pleasure in life that affects a person’s regular routines and day-to-day functioning for two weeks or more.
A bout of this kind of depression experienced as a kid, teen, or young adult can set people up for future mental-health troubles. Research shows that people who experience depression in their formative years often have more frequent and more severe depressive recurrences throughout their lives.
“When followed into adulthood, those with adolescent-onset depression are twice as likely to have a major depressive episode, five times more likely to attempt suicide, and are at increased risk for death by suicide,” the study authors wrote.
What Can Parents Do To Alleviate Teen Depression
Parenting teens can be very challenging. There are, though, some effective parenting and communication techniques you can use to help lower the stress level for your teenager:
- When disciplining your teen, replace shame and punishment with positive reinforcement for good behavior. Shame and punishment can make an adolescent feel worthless and inadequate.
- Allow your teenager to make mistakes. Overprotecting or making decisions for teens can be perceived as a lack of faith in their abilities. This can make them feel less confident.
- Give your teen breathing room. Don’t expect teens to do exactly as you say all of the time.
- Do not force your teen down a path you wanted to follow. Avoid trying to relive your youth through your teen’s activities and experiences.
- If you suspect that your teen is depressed, take the time to listen to their concerns. Even if you don’t think the problem is of real concern, remember that it may feel very real to someone who is growing up.
- Keep the lines of communication open, even if your teen seems to want to withdraw.
- Try to avoid telling your teen what to do. Instead, listen closely and you may discover more about the issues causing the problems.
- If there is a close friend or family member your teen is close to and comfortable with, you might suggest your teen talk with this person about their concerns.
If you feel overwhelmed or unable to reach your teen, or if you continue to be concerned, seek help from a qualified health care professional.
Tips For Men Coping With Anxiety And Depression
There are lots of things you can do to look after your health and wellbeing, so find an approach that best suits you. For example, try to stay active and make plans for the day they dont have to be grand plans, just small things like going for a run or talking to a mate.
Try to include activities or hobbies that you specifically enjoy. At first, you may not enjoy them as much as you did before, but if you keep active and persist, the enjoyment should eventually return.
Its important to look after your body by staying physically active, eating healthily and getting plenty of sleep. Try not to drink alcohol or take other drugs to block out how youre feeling and what is happening. This is not a positive long-term solution and can make the anxiety or depression worse.
The important thing is to find the right options and the right health professionals that suit you.
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Teen Residential Treatment For Depression
Residential treatment can be effective for teenagers or young adults with persistent or moderate to extreme experiences of depression. Home is often a familiar environment, but it can also be associated with difficult memories, be tied to negative influences, or simply be limiting to ones growth by not pushing one to act. Residential treatment is designed to address the symptoms and conditions that lead to and worsen depression. It offers targeted treatment from trained experts, a supportive social environment that fosters connection with other teens and professionals, and a change in surroundings which encourages teens to push themselves in new ways and develop new skills. Learn how to tell when residential treatment is warranted.
Tip : Adopt Healthy Habits
Making healthy lifestyle choices can do wonders for your mood. Things like eating right, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep have been shown to make a huge difference when it comes to depression.
Get moving! Ever heard of a runners high? You actually get a rush of endorphins from exercising, which makes you feel instantly happier. Physical activity can be as effective as medications or therapy for depression, so get involved in sports, ride your bike, or take a dance class. Any activity helps! If youre not feeling up to much, start with a short daily walk, and build from there.
Be smart about what you eat. An unhealthy diet can make you feel sluggish and tired, which worsens depression symptoms. Junk food, refined carbs, and sugary snacks are the worst culprits! They may give you a quick boost, but theyll leave you feeling worse in the long run. Make sure youre feeding your mind with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Talk to your parents, doctor, or school nurse about how to ensure your diet is adequately nutritious.
Aim for eight hours of sleep each night. Feeling depressed as a teenager typically disrupts your sleep. Whether youre sleeping too little or too much, your mood will suffer. But you can get on a better sleep schedule
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Talking To A Man About Depression
Many men dont exhibit typical depressive symptoms such as a despondent mood, so you may want to avoid using the word depression and try describing his behavior as stressed or overly tired. It could help him to open up.
Point out how his behavior has changed, without being critical. For example, You always seem get stomach pains before work, or You havent played racquetball for months.
Suggest a general check-up with a physician. He may be less resistant to seeing a family doctor than a mental health specialist at first. The doctor can rule out medical causes of depression and then make a referral.
Offer to accompany him on the first visit with a doctor or mental health specialist. Some men are resistant to talking about their feelings, so try to remove roadblocks to him seeking help.
Encourage him to make a list of symptoms to discuss. Help him focus on his feelings as well as physical ailments, and to be honest about his use of alcohol and drugs.
How to support a man with depression
Engage him in conversation and listen without judgement. Dont disparage any of the feelings he expresses, but do point out realities and offer hope.
Take any remarks about suicide seriously. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or find a suicide helpline in another country at Befrienders Worldwide.
Invite him for social activities, whether its simply a walk together or lunch with friends. If your invitation is refused, keep trying.
What Are Risk Factors Of Depression
There are many things that may be risk factors of depression. For some people, changes in the brain can affect mood and result in depression. Others may experience depression after a major life event, like a medical diagnosis or a loved ones death. Sometimes, those under a lot of stress especially people who care for loved ones with a serious illness or disability can feel depressed. Others may become depressed for no clear reason.
Research has shown that these factors are related to the risk of depression, but do not necessarily cause depression:
- Medical conditions, such as stroke or cancer
- Genes people who have a family history of depression may be at higher risk
- Functional limitations that make engaging in activities of daily living difficult
- Addiction and/or alcoholism included in Substance-Induced Depressive Disorder
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How Is Teen Depression Diagnosed
There aren’t any specific medical tests that can detect depression. Health care professionals determine if a teen has depression by conducting interviews and psychological tests with the teen and their family members, teachers, and peers.
The severity of the teen depression and the risk of suicide are determined based on the assessment of these interviews. Treatment recommendations are also made based on the data collected from the interviews.
The doctor will also look for signs of potentially co-existing psychiatric disorders such as anxiety or substance abuse or screen for complex forms of depression such as bipolar disorder or psychosis. The doctor will also assess the teen for risks of suicide or homicide. Incidences of attempted suicide and self-mutilation is higher in females than males while completed suicide is higher in males. One of the most vulnerable groups for completed suicide is the 18-24 age group.
The United States Preventive Service Task Force now recommends screening for anxiety in children and adolescents ages 8 to 18 years and screening for major depressive disorder in adolescents ages 12 to 18 years.
Symptoms Of Teen Depression
The signs and symptoms of depression in teens are often different than in adults. Because teen depression often disguises itself as the normal mood swings of puberty or teen angst, it’s often ignored until something serious happens, such as a suicide attempt or risk-taking behavior. Here’s what to look for if you suspect your teen has depression:
- Anger and irritability
The teen years are also a period of physical, emotional, and social upheaval. This alone can cause mood swings and depressed moods. The stress of becoming a young adult can cause bouts of sadness and depression.
Because teen depression can have so many causes and because mood shifts can be so common in teens, parents can have difficulty differentiating between the two. Consult a professional as soon as possible if you suspect depression in your teen.
For parents, this means you should note all depression signs, be aware of your teen’s moods, and discuss your suspicions with your teen’s doctor.
Talk to your teen to learn what could be contributing to their depression. They may be able to give you an answeror they may not know themselves. Either way, talking to your teen will help you keep the lines of communication open while they are working through their depression.
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More About This Life Expectancy Data
This information on this page is based on the 2017 period life table data for the Social Security area population, which comprises residents of the United States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands federal civilian employees and persons in the United States Armed Forces abroad and their dependents non-citizens living abroad who have Social Security benefits and all other United States citizens living abroad.
While data from 2017 may seem old or out of date, it’s the most recent year for which official data is available.
Forms Of Teen & Young Adult Depression
Most instances of the term depression refer to major depressive disorder, characterized by severe and persistent low mood and a lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities. There are, however, numerous types of depression which vary in their causes, severity, symptoms, and appropriate treatment approaches.
- Persistent depressive disorder, also known as dysthymia, can have fewer or less severe symptoms than major depressive disorder but lasts longer. Often, dysthymia lasts for more than a year. Although it is often described as low-grade depression, dysthymia requires treatment and is not a negligible form of depression.
- Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression which tends to worsen in a particular time of year.
- Bipolar disorder is not considered a depressive disorder. It does, however, involve severe mood changes where depressive episodes alternate with manic periods of increased energy and potential risky behavior.
Different forms of depression can require different treatment interventions. Knowing how to differentiate between these types of depression can help parents understand the causes and possible interventions for their teen or young adults struggles.
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The Importance Of Accepting And Sharing Your Feelings
It can be hard to open up about how youre feelingespecially when youre feeling depressed, ashamed, or worthless. Its important to remember that many people struggle with feelings like these at one time or anotherit doesnt mean that youre weak, fundamentally flawed, or no good. Accepting your feelings and opening up about them with someone you trust will help you feel less alone.
Even though it may not feel like it at the moment, people do love and care about you. If you can muster the courage to talk about your depression, it canand willbe resolved. Some people think that talking about sad feelings will make them worse, but the opposite is almost always true. It is very helpful to share your worries with someone who will listen and care about what you say. They dont need to be able to fix you they just need to be good listeners.
Explain Depression To Your Teen
Comparing depression to a physical malady such as diabetes can help your teen frame depression as an illness, understand their symptoms, grasp the importance of treatment, and help them not to feel alone or abnormal. Older children and adolescents are especially sensitive to feeling different or out of place. Talk with your child and encourage them to ask questions.
For example: “Depression is a mental illness. It’s like the flu and other illnesses in that it can make you feel tired or have a headache. It can also affect your moods and feelings. It can make you feel sad, lonely, frustrated, angry, or scared.”
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Coping With Suicidal Thoughts
If your negative feelings caused by depression become so overwhelming that you cant see any solution besides harming yourself or others, you need to get help right away. Asking for help when youre in the midst of such strong emotions can be really difficult, but its vital you reach out to someone you trusta friend, family member, or teacher, for example. If you dont feel that you have anyone to talk to, or think that talking to a stranger might be easier, . Youll be able to speak in confidence to someone who understands what youre going through and can help you deal with your feelings.
Whatever your situation, it takes real courage to face death and step back from the brink. You can use that courage to help you keep going and overcome depression.
There is ALWAYS another solution, even if you cant see it right now. Many people who have survived a suicide attempt say that they did it because they mistakenly felt there was no other solution to a problem they were experiencing. At the time, they couldnt see another way out, but in truth, they didnt really want to die. Remember that no matter how badly you feel, these emotions will pass.
Having thoughts of hurting yourself or others does not make you a bad person. Depression can make you think and feel things that are out of character. No one should judge you or condemn you for these feelings if you are brave enough to talk about them.
If youre thinking about suicide
Social Isolation And Depression In Older Adults
Everyone needs social connections to survive and thrive. But as people age, they often find themselves spending more time alone. Studies show that loneliness and social isolation are associated with higher rates of depression.
If youre feeling socially isolated or lonely, and you cannot see your friends and family in person for any reason, try reaching out over the phone or joining a virtual club. Find tips to help you stay more connected.
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Getting Your Teen Evaluated
A thorough evaluation by a professional is required to determine if your teen has depression, assess the severity of the problem, and weigh the treatment options.
Schedule an assessment for your teen with a medical doctor or mental health professional who specializes in helping teenagers. Seeing your child’s pediatrician can be a good first step.
What If My Son Says He Is Thinking About Hurting Himself
Anyone who has thoughts or feelings about hurting themselves should be taken seriously and should get professional help immediately. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in teens and young adults, but can usually be prevented with urgent treatment.
Its important to know that most people who feel suicidal will usually tell someone before they kill themselves, or make an attempt to kill themselves.
Teenagers may injure themselves by cutting or with drugs or alcohol without intending to kill themselves. However, self-injury is serious and should always be taken as a sign that the teen is feeling overwhelmed and cannot cope with his feelings. If a teen is harming himself or says that he thinks about killing himself, he needs immediate intervention which should include an evaluation by a mental health professional.
If you are unable to obtain urgent care from a mental health provider, take him to the nearest emergency room or call 911.
Common Barriers To Treatment For Teens And Young Adults
Many teenagers with depressive feelings are hesitant to ask for help from others, or to consider professional treatment, out of a fear of judgement or being misunderstood. Teens may feel that depression and mental health disorders mark one as abnormal, weak, ill-adjusted, or crazy. Teens may interpret their feelings as isolated incidents, minimize their experiences, or simply justify them as normal feelings for teenagers.
Maintaining regular communication with ones teenager is the best way to ensure their emotional health and stay on top of changes which may signal a problem. If youve noticed signs of depression in your teenager, ask how they have been feeling and gently bring up areas or behaviors that concern you. Try not to lead with accusations or bombard your teenager with too many questions at once. Instead, its best to prompt a discussion, listen, and offer support.
When discussing the possibility of professional treatment for your teen or young adults depression, listen to your childs concerns and questions and be ready to address them with an open mind. Stress that the goal of seeking a professional diagnosis and treatment is to help them cope with their feelings and give them the tools to solve underlying problems. Teens and young adults may resist the idea of treatment because of fears of medication or stigmas around treatment. Try and be respectful of these concerns, while encouraging compromise or positive first steps towards treatment where possible.