If Signs Point To Depression Do This
If you recognize any depression symptoms in your teen, the first step is to reach out to your childs doctor for an evaluation. You can then ask them for referrals, or find a therapist for your teen on your own.
At the same time, speak with your teen about your concerns. You can start by simply asking them if anything is bothering them in their body or mind.
Dont be judgmental or attempt to solve all their problems. Instead, just listen and let them know youre there for them. This might help them be more willing to talk now and in the future.
If you think they need therapy, but they dont want to go, explain how it could be helpful for them, but dont push it. .
Keep the door open for them, and when theyre ready to get help, make an appointment with a mental health professional for an evaluation and treatment.
Depression In Teens: The Warning Signs And How To Help Them Through
One of the things that can make depression so difficult to recognise is that the symptoms can be things we all struggle with from time to time sadness, hopelessness, lethargy, lack of engagement. When these very normal human experiences happen in a combination, duration or intensity that start to interfere with day-to-day life , its possible that depression might be waving a heavy hand over your teen.
During adolescence, the rates of depression skyrocket. According to the World Health Organisation, depression is the number one cause of illness and disability in adolescents. But theres something else. Research shows that in half of all adults who have problems with their mental health, their symptoms showed up before age 14. Three-quarters had symptoms by age 24. This puts flashing lights around the importance of noticing when our teens are struggling and making sure they get the support they need. The earlier symptoms are caught, the easier it will be to stop those symptoms expanding into something bigger and more difficult to shift.
Facing The Danger Of Teen Suicide
Sometimes teens feel so depressed that they consider ending their lives. Each year, almost 5,000 young people, ages 15 to 24, kill themselves. The rate of suicide for this age group has nearly tripled since 1960, making it the third leading cause of death in adolescents and the second leading cause of death among college-age youth.
Studies show that suicide attempts among young people may be based on long-standing problems triggered by a specific event. Suicidal adolescents may view a temporary situation as a permanent condition. Feelings of anger and resentment combined with exaggerated guilt can lead to impulsive, self-destructive acts.
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Persistent Changes In Eating Habits
Like adults, teens often eat in response to their emotions. If your teenager suddenly has no appetite and seems to be losing weight or, conversely, is eating more than usual and gaining weight, depression might be the cause. Any major weight gain or weight loss in your adolescent should prompt a visit to the doctor to rule out medical causes, including an eating disorder, anxiety or depression.
Know The Symptoms Of Depression
If your teen is depressed, you may see some of the following common symptoms of depression. If these symptoms last for 2 weeks or longer, talk to your teen’s health care provider.
- Frequent irritability with sudden bursts of anger.
- More sensitive to criticism.
- Complaints of headaches, stomach aches or other body problems. Your teen may go to the nurse’s office at school a lot.
- Withdrawal from people like parents or some friends.
- Not enjoying activities they usually like.
- Feeling tired for much of the day.
- Sad or blue feelings most of the time.
Notice changes in your teen’s daily routines that can be a sign of depression. Your teen’s daily routines can change when they are depressed. You may notice that your teen has:
- Trouble sleeping or is sleeping more than normal
- A change in eating habits, such as not being hungry or eating more than usual
- A hard time concentrating
- Problems making decisions
Changes in your teen’s behavior may also be a sign of depression. They could be having problems at home or school:
- Drop in school grades, attendance, not doing homework
- High-risk behaviors, such as reckless driving, unsafe sex, or shoplifting
- Pulling away from family and friends and spends more time alone
- Drinking or using drugs
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Meaningful Way To Offer Support
Whats on your mind?
Are you getting all the support that you need?
Hey, Im open to listening, no judgement.
I want you to know that Im here for you and Ive got your back.
Sometimes, lending an ear is all thats needed. Other times, they might actually want your help or advice.
Feel like you could use a primer in being a better listener? You can bookmark our rundown on active listening tips.
Getting Help For Teenagers With Depression
Depression is unlikely to go away on its own, but teenagers with depression usually get better with treatment. This means that seeking early help for your child is the best thing you can do.
Seeking help also shows your child that you care. Talking to your child and seeing a health professional together sends the message that your child isnt alone. And most young people wont seek help themselves, so your child probably needs your help to get professional support.
If youve tried to talk to your child, but your child has refused help or said there was nothing wrong, you might need to seek help by yourself to start with.
There are many professionals and services you can go to for help with teenage depression:
- your local community health centre
- local mental health services.
If youre unsure, your GP will be able to guide you to the most appropriate services for your family.
Depression is no-ones fault, even if it seems to run in your family. Many factors influencing depression will be outside your control. But theres a lot you can do every day to foster your childs mental health and reduce your childs risk.
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Other Types Of Mental Or Physical Illness
Adolescents suffering with anxiety or other types of mental illness can be more prone than average of developing depression. Teens with major physical health conditions can also be at risk of becoming depressed. If your teen has received a difficult diagnosis recently or earlier in childhood, be aware that coping during these years can become overwhelming. Seek counseling sooner, rather than later, if you suspect that your teen is beginning to show symptoms of depression along with any other conditions.
It can be difficult to tell if a teen is depressed or is simply having normal ups and downs of growing into adulthood. A visit to your pediatrician or family doctor can help confirm or rule out a mental health disorder. You can also seek counseling for your child on your own. Remember that you are your teens advocate, and that he or she might not recognize the signs of mental illness. If you suspect adolescent depression, get help so that your teen can start feeling better.
Depression In Children And Teenagers
Depression doesn’t just affect adults. Children and teenagers can get depressed too.
Almost 1 in 4 young people may experience depression before they are 19.
It’s important to get help early if you think your child may be depressed. The longer it goes on, the more likely it is to disrupt your child’s life and turn into a long-term problem.
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Teach Them Coping Skills
Learning how to manage stress is an important skill. While a few teens can figure this out on their own, most need some help.
In addition to modeling how to cope, teach your kid how to plan ahead for possible disappointments and how to break down stressful, complicated problems into manageable steps.
You can also show and teach them various ways to manage their emotions in the moment and during the course of their day or week.
How To Help A Depressed Teenager
Depression is very damaging when left untreated, so dont wait and hope that worrisome symptoms will go away. If you suspect that your teen is depressed, bring up your concerns in a loving, non-judgmental way. Even if youre unsure that depression is the issue, the troublesome behaviors and emotions youre seeing are signs of a problem that should be addressed.
Open up a dialogue by letting your teen know what specific depression symptoms youve noticed and why they worry you. Then ask your child to share what theyre going throughand be ready and willing to truly listen. Hold back from asking a lot of questions , but make it clear that youre ready and willing to provide whatever support they need.
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Teen Stress Levels Are Comparable To Adults
Still dont believe all this is something to stress about? The APA conducted a study called Stress in America to compare the stress levels of adults vs. teens. They found that on average, teens actually seem to have more stress than adults! On a 1-10 scale of average stress throughout the school year , teens self-reported an average of 5.8 while adults reported a level of 5.1.
So your teens everyday stresses are real. They loom large. And they can occasionally cause your teen to break down crying. Or lock themselves in their room, shut everyone else out, and blast music.
And when this happens occasionally, its normal.
Causes Of Teen Depression
Biological factors, such as genes, can increase a teens risk of developing depression. However, environmental and social conditions also have a role to play. The following factors may trigger or exacerbate symptoms of depression in your teen:
Bullying.Being bullied by peers can add stress to a teens life and affect their self-esteem. This can, in turn, trigger feelings of intense helplessness and hopelessness.
Other mental and physical health conditions. Teen depression is associated with a number of other mental health problems, including eating disorders, self-injury, anxiety, ADHD, or a learning disorder. The struggles that accompany these conditions may lead a teen to feel unconfident and frustrated when it comes to academics and socializing. Similarly, physical disabilities or chronic illness can also play a role.
Past and present stressful experiences. Past trauma from violent or abusive situations can put teens at risk of depression as well as post-traumatic stress disorder . Recent events, such as the loss of a loved one, can also trigger a depressed mood.
Lack of social support. Teens who feel unsupported by family or peers are at risk of depression. For example, a teen may be struggling with their sexual identity in a hostile or unaccepting environment.
Depression and social media use
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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 Bottom Line On Treatment For Teens
If symptoms dont improve after 6 to 8 weeks, then the AAP strongly recommends that the clinician reassess the treatment and initial diagnosis. The AAP also suggests a mental health consultation.
Teens with depression should see a qualified mental health professional before or at the same time as starting medication therapy. The AAP recommends either cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy .
CBT is guided to replace negative thoughts and emotions with good ones.
In IPT, the aim is to strengthen personal relationships by improving communication and problem-solving skills. Parents or caregivers will participate in select sessions.
Lifestyle changes may also help to relieve the symptoms of depression.
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Suicide Warning Signs To Watch For
- Talking or joking about committing suicide
- Saying things like, Id be better off dead,I wish I could disappear forever, or Theres no way out
- Speaking positively about death or romanticizing dying
- Writing stories and poems about death, dying, or suicide
- Engaging in reckless behavior or having a lot of accidents resulting in injury
- Giving away prized possessions
- Saying goodbye to friends and family as if for the last time
- Seeking out weapons, pills, or other ways to kill themselves
Get help for a suicidal teen
If you suspect that a teenager is suicidal, take immediate action! For 24-hour suicide prevention and support in the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. To find a suicide helpline outside the U.S., visit IASP or Suicide.org.
To learn more about suicide risk factors, warning signs, and what to do in a crisis, read Suicide Prevention.
What Evaluation Might Look Like
Your child’s doctor can evaluate your child’s health, make a diagnosis, recommend treatments, and refer you to another professional if necessary.
- A medical doctor can order blood tests, review family history, evaluate current medications, sleep patterns, and diet in an effort to determine if there is a physical cause for the depression.
- A psychological evaluation or psychological testing, completed by a psychologist over several sessions can provide extensive information about the severity and nature of the symptoms, contributing factors, and the possible presence of suicidal ideation. This option is best suited for cases where the diagnosis is unclear.
- An individual therapist specializing in treating teens can evaluate the symptoms based on talking to the teen and family members. This information helps point the way to make specific recommendations for next steps that are likely to be beneficial to your teen.
Information revealed about your teen’s symptoms in the evaluation plus the recommendations of the professional who administers it will make it easier to determine the next steps to take.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Depression In Teens To Watch Out For
For a diagnosis of depression, a particular cluster of symptoms needs to have been there for at least for two weeks. These symptoms must include at least one of either a depressed mood, or a loss of interest or pleasure in things that were once enjoyable. Many times these will just be a normal part of adolescence and nothing at all to worry about, but if depression is happening, there will be other telltale signs. Here are some to watch out for:
Happiness, anger, indifference the many faces of depression.
Depression doesnt always look like sadness or withdrawal. Some of depressions classic disguises are:
Anger or irritability.
Depression often comes with lethargy, pain and/or hopelessness. Understandably, this can make people angrier, more irritable or more impatient than usual.
Happy, but reluctant to spend time with friends or family.
Its takes a huge amount of strength to move through the day with depression hanging on. If your teen has depression they might use this strength to put on a happy face, but where there is depression, there is also likely to be increasing withdrawal. Its very normal for teens to withdraw from family activities its part of them experimenting with their growing independence. The thing to watch out for is if they withdraw more from friends and spend more time on their own than usual.
Tiredness, lethargy, exhaustion.
Depression is exhausting and can make people more tired than usual, even if they seem to spend more time sleeping.
Annoying Behavior Isnt Necessarily Depression
As parents of three teenagers, my husband and I find our house is filled with annoying behavior on an almost daily basis. This includes yelling, irritability, anger, and, yes, mood swings. It is often overwhelming. If one child tends to stir the pot more than the others, that may cause you to feel even more concerned. Keep in mind, though, that as long as your child is able to bounce back most days, then their annoying behaviors are probably normal.
If you suspect that your child is depressed, the good news is there are many resources available and depression is treatable. Start with your pediatrician or a mental health provider. If you want to find a mental health provider, a great place to begin your search is Psychology Today. Psychology Today is the leading site on which therapists list their services and you should be able to find many in your area.
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What Is The Treatment For Depression In Teens
There are several evidence-based treatments that work for depression in teens. They include these types of talk therapy:
- cognitive behavioral therapy
- interpersonal therapy
- attachment-based family therapy
Each of these therapies targets different aspects of depression. Therapists might use a few of these in a teen’s treatment. The details of treatment depend on what the teen needs and how severe their symptoms are.
Therapists plan each teen’s treatment after first doing a careful exam. They will talk with you and your teen to explain the treatment they recommend. Sometimes, doctors also prescribe medicines to help teens who are depressed.