Work With Your Child’s School
Get to know your childs teachers as early as possible. If you get to know your child’s teachers before they begin to struggle in school, you will already have established open communication with the school and your children’s teachers so that they know you.
With an open dialogue established, you and the school will be able to share observations about changes in your child’s behavior and school performance.
What Is Major Depression In Teens
Major depression is a type of mood disorder. Its also known as clinical depression or unipolar depression. There are 3 main types of depression:
Persistent depressive disorder
Major depression goes beyond the days normal ups and downs. It involves a teens body, mood, and thoughts. It can affect and disrupt eating, sleeping, or thinking patterns.
Depression is not the same as being unhappy or in a blue mood. It’s also not a sign of personal weakness. It cant be willed or wished away. Teens with depression cant merely pull themselves together and get better. Treatment is often needed.
Overcoming Teen Depression Tip : Talk To An Adult You Trust
Depression is not your fault, and you didnt do anything to cause it. However, you do have some control over feeling better. The first step is to ask for help.
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How I Survived Parenting A Teen With Depression
Parenting a teenager with depression has nearly broken me. It has cracked me open, so that I thought the pieces would never come back together. But, like the daisies and coneflowers that I hack down to the ground in preparation for spring, the places that are cut are the places where new shoots grow.
I didnt sign up for this. Hiding the knives. Locking up the household cleaners. Checking his room for anything sharp, for hidden meds he didnt take. Noticing new cuts on his arms. Wondering if I will find him dead in his room in the morning. Sitting with him in the doctors office waiting for the results of the drug tests.
Letting go of the expectations and hopes and dreams. While other parents share proud news about their kids accomplishments honors classes, sports achievements, a date to the prom I am happy the stealing seems to have stopped. That he can, very occasionally, laugh again.
It is a heartbreaking thing to know that your child does not want to live anymore. This sweet soul who used to sing and dance around the house, to canter like a horse around the yard, to lead the neighborhood kid gang in complex games with plastic swordsnow wants to die. Now he cuts himself just so that he will feel something. And nothing we do seems to help.
And it takes its toll. Living with a severely depressed person is like living with a black hole. When at its worst, everyone is sucked into the blackness. Nothing escapes. Nothing breaks through the darkness.
How To Get Help For Depression In Adolescents
There are many effective treatments for depression such as psychological treatments, including cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and medications, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibiters, also known as SSRIs. It may seem daunting to engage a new therapist or psychiatrist during this time, but many providers, including those at NYU Langone, have been able to adapt to the current climate by providing telemedicine appointments via video visits.
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How To Help And Support A Teen With Depression
Theres no one size fits all treatment for depression. Everyone experiences it differently and needs different types of support. Be open to learning what the different options are, and work with your child to help them decide which one will best suit them.
If your childs depression is significantly affecting their life, its best to see a mental health professional, such as a psychologist. If the depression is mild, or if your child isnt open to seeing a professional, there are lifestyle changes and self-management options that can be a good first step.
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.
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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.
Tip : Support Your Teen Through Depression Treatment
As your depressed teenager goes through treatment, the most important thing you can do is to let them know that youre there to listen and offer support. Now more than ever, your teenager needs to know that theyre valued, accepted, and cared for.
Be understanding.Living with a depressed teenager can be difficult and draining. At times, you may experience exhaustion, rejection, despair, aggravation, or any other number of negative emotions. During this trying time, its important to remember that your child is not being difficult on purpose. Your teen is suffering, so do your best to be patient and understanding.
Stay involved in treatment. Make sure your teenager is following all treatment instructions, whether its attending therapy or correctly taking any prescribed medication. Track changes in your teens condition, and call the doctor if depression symptoms seem to be getting worse.
Be patient. The road to your depressed teenagers recovery may be bumpy, so be patient. Rejoice in small victories and prepare for the occasional setback. Most importantly, dont judge yourself or compare your family to others. As long as youre doing your best to get your teen the necessary help, youre doing your job.
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Online And Phone Support
Depending on your circumstances and your teenagers preferences, helplines for teenage depression, available online or on the phone, might be a better fit. These forms can also be great for times when face-to-face help isn’t available, such as at night, between appointments or when its difficult to get to a clinic. There are lots of different options:
- encouraging them to connect with supportive peers and social activities
- encouraging them to explore self-help activities such as mindfulness and relaxation, or to learn new positive coping strategies
- encouraging them to be physically active
- being supportive and building your childs sense of self and self-esteem
- supporting them to find a creative outlet or to develop a new skill.
How Is Major Depression Treated In A Teen
Treatment will depend on your teens symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Major depression can often be treated. Treatment may include one or more of the following:
Antidepressant medicines. These can be very helpful, especially when used with psychotherapy.
Talk therapy . This treatment helps teens with depression change their distorted views of themselves and the environment around them. It also finds stressors in the teens environment and teaches him or her how to stay away from them. A teen will also learn how to work through hard relationships.
Read Also: What To Do When You Think You Are Depressed
How Does Therapy Help Teens Who Are Depressed
Therapy helps teens explore and resolve their depression. In therapy, teens may learn to:
- feel understood and closer to others
- talk about their feelings, thoughts, and events that matter to them
- manage strong emotions and moods
- reduce harmful or risky behaviors
- regain energy and motivation
- improve their emotions, thoughts, and outlook
- learn and practice coping skills
- restore healthy family bonds or boundaries, as needed
- build on their inner strengths
- find hope and healing, increase their joy and optimism
Depression Is Not Who You Are
Rather than promoting healthy changes in thinking, acting, decision-making, and connection, we are hindering the positive expectancy and motivation that is critical to the treatment of these problems. And we are inhibiting an important discussion about risk factors, prevention, and recovery.
When we give teens the message that this is who they are,â that their brains are imbalanced, and that depression is a disease that âjust shows up,â our attempts to help are possibly doing the exact opposite.
Depression and anxiety in teenagers are very real and very destructive when left alone, but treatment that focuses on building resources and skills is very successful.
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Causes Of Child Depression: Children And Adolescents
Not all depressive episodes have a specific reason for their development. Sometimes, depression may develop on its own. However, depression can also take place as a result of an external situation that is causing mental stress for a child. Some of these causes may include:
- Being bullied at school or online
- Being placed under intense stress, whether at school or at home
- Going through a life-changing situation
- Coping with a health issue that is causing them significant pain and difficulty in their lives
Looking out for these causes can help you better understand why your child may have become depressed in the first place. And it can help you change some of these aspects, so they are less at risk of developing it in the future. For depression in children that may be linked to parental mental health issues or other causes that cannot be stopped or controlled, treatment is still necessary and possible! What is the next step?
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.
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How To Help Your Teen Once They Are Diagnosed
Honor your childs feelings. It is difficult to see your child sad and in pain. Your first response might be to try to cheer him or her up. Dont. Trying to make depressed children and teens happy makes them feel like the depression can be willed away. It is more helpful to listen. Acknowledge their feelings, and take them seriously.
We have open conversations with our kids. We try to hit on on the fact that depression is genetic its not your fault. If you needed glasses or if you had diabetes, wed be doing something. Weve had a lot of love, a lot of conversations, and a lot of patience with challenges we never thought wed have.
– Sheila, parent of four teenagers
Use encouraging statements rather than punishment.
Instead of yelling, Turn that television off! You havent done your homework yet! say When you finish your homework, you can watch television.
If your child constantly forgets to take his or her lunch money to school, dont say, You are so forgetful! You cant remember a simple thing like your lunch money! Instead, say something that focuses on the behavior, not your child, like I know it has been hard for you to remember your lunch money. What can we do to make sure it gets put in your book bag every morning?
Focus on consequences rather than punishment.
For example, if your child breaks a lamp during a temper tantrum, use a logical consequence rather than issuing an unrelated punishment .
Help your child build a feeling vocabulary.
If You Are Not The Parent
The teen in your life may be your student, a member of your after-school program, or a relative. Although you arent the parent, you can still play an important role in getting them help. Here are some things you can do:
- Approach the teens parents and describe what youve observed in a thoughtful way. This may be difficult for the parent to hear, but be honest and express your concern.
- If, for some reason, you need to talk the teen first, follow the same approach. Tell them what youve observed and offer to talk to the principal, program leader, or parents with the teen.
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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.”
What Should I Do If I Think My Teen Is Depressed
If you think your teen might be depressed:
- Talk with them. Show extra love and support. Let them know you care and want to hear what they’re going through. When they’re depressed, many teens feel alone, distant, or unlovable. Small gestures of caring can help them feel less alone.
- Take them to see their doctor. Set up a visit with your teen’s doctor or a mental health provider to check for depression. Medical providers also can check for other health or mental health issues that might be causing your teen’s symptoms. They can explain what they can do to help your teen.
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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.
Determining Whether Its Clinical
Like adult depression, teen depression comes in many different forms. It can vary in intensity from a fleeting state of melancholy to a crippling sadness that leaves your teen unable to interact or even get out of bed for days at a time. Before we can talk about how to help a teen with depression, we have to figure out what type of depression your teen is dealing with.
In general, psychologists divide teen depression into two major categories: clinical depression or non-clinical depression. Lets look at the main differences and then Ill show you how to help a teen with depression of both types.
The biggest factor that distinguishes clinical depression from regular teen depression is the inability to function normally in daily routines. If your teen is going through periods of immense sadness during which they are unable to complete simple activities like getting out of bed, grooming themselves, preparing and eating meals, doing homework, or attending school, then your teen is likely dealing with clinical teen depression.
On the other hand, if your teen is emotional, sad, tired, and down, but is able to complete their daily routines more or less successfully, then your teen likely has a case of non-clinical depression. The good thing about non-clinical teen depression is that it doesnt require drugs or counseling. The bad thing is that non-clinical teen depression can last for a very long time, even years in some cases.
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