Symptoms Of Teen Depression
Depression in teens deeply affects those who experience it, but the symptoms are often different than those seen in depressed adults. In order to get help, it is important to first recognize the signs of depression in teens:
- Anger and irritability
- Talk of death or suicide
- Withdrawal from friends and family
Teen depression is not uncommon. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 3.2% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 are diagnosed with depression in a given year.
The problem is that teen depression often disguises itself as normal “mood swings” due to puberty or teen angst. This means that it is often ignored until something more serious happens such as serious risk-taking behavior that leads to trouble or a suicide attempt.
Which Children Get Depressed
Up to 3% of children and 8% of adolescents in the U.S. have depression. The condition is significantly more common in boys under age 10. But by age 16, girls have a greater incidence of depression.
Bipolar disorder is more common in adolescents than in younger children. But bipolar disorder in children can be more severe than in adolescents. It may also happen with, or be hidden by, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , obsessive compulsive disorder , or conduct disorder .
Child With Aspergers And Depression
Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed he performs worse, socially and intellectually.
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Depression is one comorbid condition of Aspergers and it is one disorder which is seen in almost every person suffering from Aspergers. This very disorder makes its appearance when the youngster with Aspergers is as young as three years of age and the parents will find that the youngster is prone to crying several times a day.
In some cases involving as much as 250 clients each time, a generalist program is a stepwise approach that focuses largely on therapy On the various other hand, a regular specialist program involves no more 12 clients each time and also places little emphasis on therapy Of course, irrespective of the therapy techniques treatment program, the healing process need to proceed even after a patient leaves an RTC. Overcoming depression can require time, however with the assistance of your medical professional, medicine as well as natural treatments you can quit your suffering within a couple of days.
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When Its Time For Immediate Help
Not everyone with depression thinks about suicide. Many people who do have suicidal thoughts never make a plan or attempt suicide. That said, youll want to take any mention of suicide seriously.
Its time to get professional support right away if you notice any of the following signs in your child:
- writing stories or poems about dying
- exhibiting risk-taking behavior, including substance or alcohol use
- talking about dying or wanting a way out of their pain
- becoming more withdrawn from others
- saying others would be better off without them
- giving away personal possessions
If they tell you theyre thinking about suicide:
- Ask if theyve made a crisis or safety plan in therapy, and follow those steps.
- Connect them with their therapist for guidance on next steps.
- Encourage them to text the Crisis Text Line or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for 24/7 crisis support.
- Take them to the emergency room for support.
If You Think Your Child Is Depressed
If you think your child may be depressed, it’s important to talk to them. Try to find out what’s troubling them and how they’re feeling.
See some tips on talking to younger children about their feelings and talking to teenagers.
Whatever is causing the problem, take it seriously. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but it could be a major problem for your child.
If your child does not want to talk to you, let them know that you’re concerned about them and that you’re there if they need you.
Encourage them to talk to someone else they trust, such as another family member, a friend or someone at school.
It may be helpful for you to talk to other people who know your child, including their other parent.
You could also contact their school to ask if the staff have any concerns.
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How Can I Tell If My Child Is Depressed
If a child is depressed, parents may notice some of these signs:
- Sad or bad mood. A child may seem sad, lonely, unhappy, or grouchy. It can last weeks or months. A child may cry more easily. They may have more tantrums than before.
- Being self-critical. Kids going through depression may complain a lot. They may say self-critical things like, “I can’t do anything right.” “I don’t have any friends.” “I can’t do this.” “It’s too hard for me.”
- Lack of energy and effort. Depression can drain a child’s energy. They might put less effort into school than before. Even doing little tasks can feel like too much effort. Kids may seem tired, give up easily, or not try.
- Not enjoying things. Kids don’t have as much fun with friends or enjoy playing like before. They may not feel like doing things they used to enjoy.
- Sleep and eating changes. Kids may not sleep well or seem tired even if they get enough sleep. Some may not feel like eating. Others may overeat.
- Aches and pains. Some children may have stomach aches or other pains. Some miss school days because of not feeling well, even though they aren’t sick.
Adjust Diet And Exercise
It’s a common misconception that medication can act as the be-all and end-all of childhood depression treatment. However, there are often several factors at play that can impact treatment trajectory.
Lifestyle factors can also impact medication efficacy. Thats where eating a healthy diet, exercising, and getting proper rest comes in, explains Dr. Valente. If you dont do those things, then medication may not have the robust response that we want.
Dr. Valente recommends adhering to a diet of healthy foods, such as the Mediterranean diet, which has been linked to a reduction of depressive symptoms. Aside from diet, parents can help children manage depression by encouraging routine exercise, which has shown to have comparable effects to antidepressants in some cases.
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Impact On School Performance
Below are some of the ways depression can impact kids at school:
Even if your child is only experiencing a few of the above symptoms, you can see how it would affect their school performance. Here are some tips and strategies for school success when your child has depression.
Consider The Implications Of Negative Consequences
Children with depression need negative consequences for breaking the rules, but you should choose those consequences carefully. Taking away your childs ability to socialize with friends, for example, could make his depression worse.
Short-term consequences, like time-out, can be very effective for younger children with depression. Consequences that take place over several days, like being grounded for a week, can backfire because children with depression may lose their motivation to earn their privileges back.
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Provide Opportunities To Excel
After a depression diagnosis, its key for parents to help their child build back some positivity. If your child has a talent or hobby, such as sports, music, or art, take the time to accentuate that. Dr. Valente recommends providing opportunities where your child can excel, especially if they are coping with chronic or recurrent depression.
Emerging Trends In Substance Misuse:
- MethamphetamineIn 2019, NSDUH data show that approximately 2 million people used methamphetamine in the past year. Approximately 1 million people had a methamphetamine use disorder, which was higher than the percentage in 2016, but similar to the percentages in 2015 and 2018. The National Institute on Drug Abuse Data shows that overdose death rates involving methamphetamine have quadrupled from 2011 to 2017. Frequent meth use is associated with mood disturbances, hallucinations, and paranoia.
- CocaineIn 2019, NSDUH data show an estimated 5.5 million people aged 12 or older were past users of cocaine, including about 778,000 users of crack. The CDC reports that overdose deaths involving have increased by one-third from 2016 to 2017. In the short term, cocaine use can result in increased blood pressure, restlessness, and irritability. In the long term, severe medical complications of cocaine use include heart attacks, seizures, and abdominal pain.
- KratomIn 2019, NSDUH data show that about 825,000 people had used Kratom in the past month. Kratom is a tropical plant that grows naturally in Southeast Asia with leaves that can have psychotropic effects by affecting opioid brain receptors. It is currently unregulated and has risk of abuse and dependence. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that health effects of Kratom can include nausea, itching, seizures, and hallucinations.
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What Causes Child Depression
Different things can lead to depression. There is no single cause. Some children have genes that make them more sensitive to depression. They may have other family members who have been depressed.
Some children go through stressful things. Some have faced loss, trauma, or hardships. Some go through serious health conditions. These things can lead to sadness or grief and sometimes to depression.
Having extra support during and after hard times helps protect children from depression or lessen the effects. But even when they have good support, some children get depressed. Therapy can help them heal, feel better, and get back to enjoying things.
Does Depression Affect Children
Depression can affect people of any age, including children. Although children naturally have mood swings as they grow and develop, depression is different. The disorder can affect how children interact with friends and family. It may prevent them from enjoying school, sports, hobbies or other normal childhood activities.
In children, depression and anxiety often go hand in hand. Anxiety is a medical condition that causes feelings of fear, panic or worry about everyday situations. Sometimes, depression or anxiety in children gets chalked up to growing pains. But if you have any concerns about behavioral or mental health, talk to a healthcare provider.
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Encourage The Acceptance Of The Diagnosis
Kids with mental illnesses are huge targets, states Dr. Valente. Kids who are different get singled out. Its important to remind your child that their diagnosis is nothing to be ashamed of and provide them with support at home, especially if there is any bullying at school.
As there is a significant link between feelings of shame and depression, parents should work to remove any stigma from a depression diagnosis wherever they can and encourage the acceptance of the diagnosis as a family.
Can Depression In Children Be Prevented
Children with a family history of depression are also at higher risk of depression. Children who have parents with depression tend to have their first episode of depression earlier than children whose parents donât have the condition. Children from chaotic or conflicted families, or children and teens who abuse substances like alcohol and drugs, are also at greater risk of depression.
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Managing Depression In Children: Support At Home
As well as working with mental health professionals, here are some simple and effective ways that you can help your child:
- Make time to talk with your child and listen to their feelings. You could do this when youre making dinner together or going for a walk.
- Gently encourage your child to do something they would normally enjoy when theyre feeling depressed instead of dwelling on their feelings. For example, a trip to the park or spending time with friends.
- Manage your childs stress and tension. Regular family routines that make time for exercise, relaxing and socialising with friends can help. Getting enough sleep can also reduce your childs stress levels.
- Look for apps that can help your child learn relaxation strategies, like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, visualisations and mindfulness.
- Speak with your childs teacher or school counsellor to find the best ways to support your child at school.
When siblings and other family members know that your child has depression, they can help by being accepting and compassionate. But before you tell other people, ask your child whether this is OK. Its important for your child to give permission for you to tell others.
What Is Depression
Depression is a mood disorder that can cause someone to feel sad, irritable or hopeless. It may affect your sleep, appetite or relationships with others. Depression can also cause you to lose interest in hobbies or activities you once enjoyed. In severe cases, depression can lead to thoughts of suicide.
Depression is typically diagnosed if symptoms last two weeks or longer. It should only get evaluated, diagnosed and treated by a healthcare provider. Although depression is a serious medical condition, its usually treatable.
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Is It An Emergency
If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.
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What Adults May Notice
- Irritable or cranky mood, preoccupation with song lyrics that suggest life is meaningless
- Loss of interest in sports or other activities, withdrawal from friends and family, relationship problems
- Failure to gain weight as normally expected
- Excessive late-night TV, having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, having trouble getting up in the morning
- Inability to sit still, taking a long time to complete normal tasks, pacing back and forth, and/or excessive repetition of behaviors
- Social withdrawal, napping, withdrawal from usual activities, boredom
- Making critical comments about themselves, having behavior problems at home or school, being overly sensitive to rejection
- Poor performance at school, drop in grades, frequent absences
- Frequent complaints of physical pain
- Writing about death, giving away favorite belongings, Youd be better off without me.
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Making A Support Plan
If your child is experiencing depression and needs ongoing support, it can be helpful to create a support plan together with the professionals around your child so that you know exactly what help is available and how your child can access it. This could include things like:
- agreements with their GP, or their key worker if they are being treated by CAMHS, about when they will next check-in
- whether any referrals can be made to other services, and a list of the services available locally that might be able to support them
- what your childs school can offer including a staff member who they can speak to when theyre struggling.
- people your child trusts and can talk to when they need to, including family and friends.
You can find out more about speaking to GPs, finding a counsellor or therapist, accessing Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services , getting help from your childs school and finding local services on our guide to getting help.
Depression Coping Skill #: Talk Back To Negative Thoughts
Kids with depression are prone to ruminating: mulling over their negative thoughts over and over again, which makes their sad feelings more intense. Depression often exaggerates and distorts our thinking, making our thoughts too negative to be true. Kids can stop the cycle of ruminating by spotting these overly-negative thoughts, questioning them, and coming up with a more helpful and realistic alternative. This is called cognitive restructuring and its an important part of cognitive-behavioral therapy, an approach that helps people learn how their thoughts and behavior influence their feelings.
This skill is best for kids who are elementary-aged or older. Sometimes it is hard for kids to learn this skill on their own, because it requires them to think about thinking, which is an abstract concept. A child counselor can teach children how to master this idea and practice talking back to negative thoughts. I often use the picture book Tiger Tiger, Is It True? to help kids understand how changing their thoughts can change their feelings. You can help your child catch himself when hes thinking something too negative to be true, and encourage him to ask himself questions like:
Do I have any proof this is true?
What would I tell a friend who had this thought?
Is there another way of looking at this?
OK, it if really is true, would it be the end of the world?
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Think Together About Whether Theres Anything In Particular Thats Making Them Feel This Way
This could include a problem with a friendship or family relationship, feeling bullied or left out at school, feeling overwhelmed by school work, struggling with a change such as divorce or separation in the family, or a combination of things.
Are there changes that could be made at home or school that would make things easier?
How Do Antidepressants Work
The most common antidepressant medications for children are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors . These medications increase the level of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that can help increase feelings of happiness and well-being.
Use extra caution with antidepressants in children. Some children show no improvement with the medications, or may even feel more depressed. If a healthcare provider recommends antidepressants, watch your childs condition closely. Never allow your child to stop taking antidepressants suddenly. Doing so can cause serious side effects or make depression worse.
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