Teen Depression And Anxiety: What Parents Can Do
If youre worried about an adolescent and arent sure what to do, you can this advice from Fadi Haddad, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and the author of Helping Kids in Crisis. To read more about adolescents, depression and anxiety, check out our cover story, The Kids Are Not All Right.
Talk about the real stuff
Sometimes conversations between parents and teens can be all about achievements, schedules and chores. Go beyond that. Find out what keeps them up at night, and ask, Whats the best part of your day? Become attuned to their emotional world so that you understand what their dreams are, what they struggle with and how their life is going.
Give them space, but pay attention
Give teens space to grow and separate from you, but also watch for changes in behavior. Are they giving up activities they used to enjoy? Are they staying up all night or eating differently? Is your outgoing kid now withdrawn? If youre worried, say so. Show interest in their internal life without judgment.
Resist getting angry
When parents learn a teen has been hiding something or is having behavior issues, the response is often anger or punishment. Instead, see whats going on. If a kid is acting out or doing things like self-harming, skipping school, respond with compassion first. Say, It seems like youre having trouble, Im here to help. Tell me whats happening with you.
Dont put off getting help
Treat the whole family
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.
Being Available To Talk
Your young person might not want to talk when you approach them. While its not helpful to push them to open up, its important for them to know that when they feel up to it, youll be there for them.
Sometimes, talking to an adult friend can be easier than a parent, so if theres someone close to your child, consider having a chat to them about this and asking them to reach out. For example, your teen might feel more comfortable talking to an aunt, a sports coach, a teacher or their friends parent. Remember: if theyd rather talk to someone else, this doesnt mean that youve done anything wrong.
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Talk About Treatment With Your Teen
Your teenager is more likely to comply with treatment if they understand what it is for, knows what to expect, and can have a say in it. Of course, it is not always practical to allow your child to plan their own treatment, but if you can allow them to even make a small decision , it may make a big difference in allowing them to feel a little more in control.
- For Example: “You will need to take your medicine every day and go to therapy once a week so you feel better. You can talk privately to your therapist about how you are feeling. Your medicine may make you feel extra tired or dizzy, but it should go away soon. That is why you will see the doctor once a month. They will ask about how the medicine is making you feel and will make sure that it is helping you.”
Can Puberty Cause Mental Illness
Although most teenagers successfully navigate the transition from dependence upon a caregiver to becoming a self-sufficient adult member of the society, adolescence is also a time of increasing incidence of several classes of psychiatric illnesses, including anxiety and mood disorders, psychosis, eating disorders,
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Some Common Causes Of Low Motivation Among Teens Are:
FEAR OF FAILURE: Teens may develop such a fear of failure that they are unwilling to try in the first place. These teens may fear that the harder they try, the more crushing a failure would because failing at something you try hard to do may reflect a basic incompetence. This fear afflicts several kinds of teens. Some bear the weight of intense external pressure to performeither from parents, peers, teachers or the success of an older sibling. Others may have experienced failure in a way that led to shame and pain. Dr. Carol Dweck, a Stanford University researcher, has noticed that students who are inordinately praised from a young age for their intrinsic abilities or intelligence rather than for their hard work can become avoidant too. They come to feel that any failure is a threat to their image as intelligent or capable.
LACK OF INTRINSIC MOTIVATORS: Some children find external praise and reward almost addictiveespecially when coupled with a very high degree of external structure and adult direction. But with the dawn of adolescence, many of these young people fail to make the necessary developmental shift from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation. They have spend so much energy pursuing what makes others happy that they find it difficult to know and pursue what makes them happya critical component of successful individuation.
If You Are Worried About Your Teenager Seek Help
Ginty Butler: One of the things that often gets lost is the fact that anxiety and depression are both treatable illnesses. With appropriate treatment, people can and do get better.
Parents who are concerned that anxiety or depression is causing their teen to withdraw from friends or activities they used to enjoy should seek professional care for their child. The best place to start is with a trusted health care provider, such as a family pediatrician. You can also reach out to Boston Childrens or another pediatric health provider for resources.
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So What To Do With Your Feelings
First, stop trying to fix her. Yes, you can be there for her as a parent when she needs an ear. Yes, this requires patience. Dont try to solve her depression for her. Dont tell her to smile, get outside, if you just did X you would feel better. Remain a stable touchstone in her life. Help her access care when you can rides to therapy appointments, etc. But, that doesnt mean you cant set boundaries.
I know for me that boundaries, or the lack of boundaries I had, didnt help my depression at all. Its okay for you to set boundaries with her. Modeling healthy boundaries will help her to do the same. You do not have to do everything for her all the time.
When Is Medication Indicated When Is Therapy Indicated When Might Both Be A Good Idea
With most anxiety disorders, psychotherapy should come first. This is true in many cases of depression as well. Very often, this intervention may be the only thing that is needed. A psychotherapist will often recommend that you seek a referral to a prescriber if they feel psychotherapy is insufficient. This is a conversation you can start with the therapist as well.
For severe anxiety or depression such as if the teen is losing or gaining weight, participating in self-harm or having suicidal thoughts therapy and medication may be started at the same time.The answer to this question will not be the same for everyone. A trained mental health professional is needed for a full assessment and determination.
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I Can’t Do Everything For Her The Entire Time
She’s on medication and has been for three years, and we have recently changed it in the hope that things might improve. Perhaps they will make a difference, but at the moment it’s all getting decidedly worse.
I found your website as she just sent me a link about worse things to say to someone who’s depressed as I was trying to get her to smile rather than sit slumped and looking miserable. I said it might help to smile and sit up. So that was wrong.
Help! I am exhausted from trying to be positive and try to get her up/ dressed/outside/ doing little tasks. I talk to my friends and my ex-sister-in-law. They have no answers but do at least support.
Signs Of Anxiety In Children
While anxiety can be debilitating for anyone, the added pressures of changing hormones and the adjustments required as they go through education can make mental health issues particularly daunting for a teenager.
For many, our teenage years are when we feel at our most self-conscious. What will my friends think of me? and Will I be laughed at? may be some of the questions stopping your teenager from taking those all-important first steps towards seeking help and advice.
Knowing the signs and symptoms to look out for as a parent or schoolteacher can help manage anxiety in teens and support them through this difficult period of their lives.
- Wetting the bed or bad dreams
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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.
Is It Fair To Assume Rates Of Depression And Anxiety Are Going Up In This Age Group
Overall, yes. There is a lot happening in the country and throughout the world related to coronavirus. In addition to social isolation and changes in routines, teens may be concerned about parents who work in the medical field, grandparents getting sick, etc.
Then, we couple this with the social unrest in our nation. Kids of color may be having different kinds of conversations with their friends and learning that perhaps they have different attitudes than they previously thought.
Relationships, even among close friends and loved ones, are becoming strained. Its a lot for teens to digest and address.
On the other hand, what Im seeing and what Im reading is consistent throughout the country is that many teens who previously had some levels of anxiety and depression related to specific social stressors are feeling some relief in this time of social distancing and virtual learning. Kids who were struggling with social skills or victimized by bullying at school may be more comfortable in the home environment.
The exact effects of the pandemic are of course dependent on the person, but its safe to say that almost everyone is facing unique challenges right now.
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Tips For Helping A Depressed Teen
If you are concerned that your teen may be depressed, but they appear uninterested in getting help or perhaps outright refuse it, there are steps that you can take to help them. Proceed with gentle but firm methods to persuade your teen to get help. These varied approaches have all been effective in helping depressed teens move forward.
Encourage A Variety Of Healthy Distractions
Video games take a lot of flack, but they offer a necessary distraction for teens with pandemic anxiety. If your teenager needs a distraction, its okay to indulge them within reason. Encourage other hobbies and activities in addition to digital escapes, such as reading, journaling, creative projects, cooking or exercise. Its also important to help your teen find other support and maintain their social lives by organizing virtual or socially distanced get-togethers with their friends or family.
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Look For The Positive And Praise Your Teen Generously
If your teen is depressed, they will welcome praise when its offered. Depression often comes with feeling guilty, ashamed, sad, lonely, anxious, and confused. When you give your teen praise, you highlight a detail in their life and you help them shine a bit more. You also let your teen know that youre noticing, that you care, and that you love them. Teens who are depressed need you to highlight the positive because they are so frequently focused on the negative.
Does Depression Medicine Work For Teen Depression
Yes. A large number of research trials have shown the effectiveness of depression medications in relieving the symptoms of teen depression. One key recent study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, reviewed three different approaches to treating adolescents with moderate to severe depression:
- One approach was using the antidepressant medication Prozac, which is approved by the FDA for use with pediatric patients ages 8-18.
- The second treatment was using cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, to help the teen recognize and change negative patterns of thinking that may increase symptoms of depression.
- The third approach was a combination of medication and CBT.
At the end of the 12-week study, researchers found that nearly three out of every four patients who received the combination treatment — depression medication and psychotherapy — significantly improved. More than 60% of the kids who took Prozac alone improved. But the study confirmed that combination treatment was nearly twice as effective in relieving depression as psychotherapy alone.
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How You Can Help
If your teen is diagnosed with depression, there are ways you can be supportive. Educate yourself about depression so you can have a better idea of what your teen is going through. Be available to listen and encourage your teen to talk to you about anything that might be bothering them.
Support your teen’s daily routines, such as taking medications and eating healthy, encourage healthy self-help strategies, and make sure your home is a safe, comforting place.
Start getting your teen help for depression by talking to their doctor. Working with a mental health professional and your family doctor is the best beginning strategy for a teen suffering from depression. This treatment strategy will help your teen deal with their current problem and prevent the depression from getting worse and causing more problems in school, their social lives, and their development.
Some teens who are suffering from depression do not want to seek help. They may beg, get upset with you, or become violent when you suggest it. Even if your concerns are met with resistance, it is still important that you seek help for your teen.
I Try Giving Her Food To Brighten Her Mood
My kids need food if they are cranky. So down I go to the laundry room where she is grudgingly folding towels. I offer her Manchego cheese on bread with a drop of honey. She takes one look and says, Theres rind. Im not eating it. Ok. Right. Deep breathme not her.
Not to be defeated, I go back up for beef jerky. She cant refuse that . Upon my return, Kylie was sitting on the floor leaning against the washing machine. She was gritting her teeth, clenching her jaw and cracking her knuckles, and didnt even realize it. So without a word, I plunked myself down next to her and silently held out the jerky. She took it, ate it and grabbed another piece from my hand. A taste of success.
Asking her if something happened or she was just in a bad mood, she declared life sucks. Kind of true for a teen so I didnt argue on that. I just asked whether it was life in general or school, homework, parents, college. Pretty much, yes. She was spinning her ring on her finger and I grabbed her hand. She held on, just clinging as though I was the lifeline, the bridge between reality and that cacophony sounding in her head.
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