A Cry For Help Or Something More
As a parent, I didnt notice the difference between depression and normal 15- and 16-year-old behavior until after the fact, Tracy Peter told the Portland Press Herald. Her son killed himself when he was only 16. What if I had recognized the signs? she wonders. Jurich calls hopelessness and helplessness the Molotov cocktail that triggers teen suicide.
Now lets get to the hope, Borchard says. According to teendepression.org, 80 percent of teens with depression can be successfully treated if they seek the right help. I am part of that statistic. Teen depression doesnt have to mean a lifetime of struggle, and it certainly doesnt have to end in suicide.
Signs Of Depression In Children
Symptoms of depression in children often include:
- sadness, or a low mood that does not go away
- being irritable or grumpy all the time
- not being interested in things they used to enjoy
- feeling tired and exhausted a lot of the time
Your child may also:
- have trouble sleeping or sleep more than usual
- not be able to concentrate
- interact less with friends and family
- be indecisive
- eat less than usual or overeat
- have big changes in weight
- seem unable to relax or be more lethargic than usual
- talk about feeling guilty or worthless
- feel empty or unable to feel emotions
- have thoughts about suicide or self-harming
- actually self-harm, for example, cutting their skin or taking an overdose
Some children have problems with anxiety as well as depression. Some also have physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomach aches.
Problems at school can be a sign of depression in children and young people and so can problem behaviour.
Older children who are depressed may misuse drugs or alcohol.
Helping Kids With Depression Get Treatment
Some teens will want to go to therapy when you ask them and some wont. For those who are resistant, know that they arent going to suddenly open up to the idea of therapy quickly, but you can help guide them towards treatment by opening the door and then waiting patiently for them to walk through it.
Try saying, I know youre having a hard time, and I have some ideas of things that could help. If youd like to talk with me about them, let me know. Im here for you. Its also a good idea to ask them if they has any suggestions on how you might be able to help. You might be surprised with what they have to say.
Be aware that your teen might tell you to back off. Thats fine its their way albeit a slightly irritable one of telling you that they need space. Its normal for teenagers to want independence, and its important for you to respect that. You can respond by saying, Ill give you more space, but know that Im here for you if you ever want to talk or hear my suggestions.
If they do come to you wanting help, be prepared. Do your research. Find two or three therapists they can interview and tell them that they can choose the one that they feel most comfortable with, and think will help the most. Finding a therapist who is a good fit is extremely important, and making the choice theirs will help them feel ownership over their own treatment, which is extremely important to teens and sets the stage for effective therapy.
Recommended Reading: What Should You Do If Your Depressed
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.
Need to talk to someone?
Get affordable online counseling from BetterHelp or visit HelpGuides directory for free helplines and crisis resources. HelpGuide is reader supported. We may receive a commission if you sign up for BetterHelp through the provided link. Learn more.
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.
You May Like: Genetic Testing For Depression Meds
What Can Family Members And Friends Do To Help A Depressed Teen
Family members and friends are advised to seek and encourage the depressed teen to receive mental health evaluation and treatment. Family members may consult with the teen’s primary care doctor or seek mental health services by contacting one of the resources identified below. Friends of the depression sufferer sometimes think that they would be betraying their friend’s confidence by notifying the depressed teen’s parents, teachers, school counselor, or other school personnel about their friend’s troubles. The potential risk of their friend’s sadness worsening and leading to their becoming suicidal or homicidal far outweighs the risk of the depressed teen feeling betrayed.
Once the depressed youth is in treatment, family members can help encourage good mental health by gently encouraging him or her to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Examples of that include encouraging the teen to drink plenty of water, maintain a healthy diet, get adequate sleep, participate in regular exercise, and engage in appropriate stress-management activities. Friends can encourage the depressed peer to remain socially active rather than becoming isolated. Both family and friends can be helpful to the depressed teen by discouraging their loved one from using alcohol or other drugs or otherwise engaging in risky behaviors.
The Answer Might Be Right There In Their Hands: The Smartphone
Not many research results make you sit up straight in your chair, but this one did.
Ive been tracking trends in the attitudes and behaviors of teens and young adults for many years, primarily relying on a nationally representative survey of U.S. teens conducted every year called Monitoring the Future that has surveyed 1.4 million teens since the 1970s. Around 2012 to 2013, there was sudden uptick in teens saying they were experiencing symptoms of depression feeling hopeless, not enjoying life, believing they cant do anything right. Depressive symptoms continued to increase over the next few years, making today’s teens whom I describe in my new book, iGensignificantly more depressed than teens just a few years before.
Since an excerpt of iGen ran in the Atlantic, some have wondered how I came to the conclusion that mental health issues were on the rise among teens . Now that the book has been published with all of the graphs and analyses, I can finally explain that here, which I hope will answer critiques that seemed to be based on an incomplete understanding of the research and how it was done.
You May Like: How Can I Help My Friend With Depression
Teen Suicide Warning Signs
Recognizing teen suicide warning signs
Suicide is alarmingly common. It is the eighth leading cause of death for all people and the third leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 24 . The vast majority of suicides are related to emotional or psychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and others. Unsuccessful suicide attempts also are common and outnumber actual suicides.
Depression In Teens Vs Adults
Depression in teens can look very different from depression in adults. The following signs and symptoms are more common in teenagers than in their adult counterparts:
Irritable or angry mood. As noted, irritability, rather than sadness, is often the predominant mood in depressed teens. A depressed teenager may be grumpy, hostile, easily frustrated, or prone to angry outbursts.
Unexplained aches and pains. Depressed teens frequently complain about physical ailments such as headaches or stomachaches. If a thorough physical exam does not reveal a medical cause, these aches and pains may indicate depression.
Extreme sensitivity to criticism. Depressed teens are plagued by feelings of worthlessness, making them extremely vulnerable to criticism, rejection, and failure. This is a particular problem for over-achievers.
Withdrawing from some, but not all people. While adults tend to isolate themselves when depressed, teenagers usually keep up at least some friendships. However, teens with depression may socialize less than before, pull away from their parents, or start hanging out with a different crowd.
Is it depression or teenage growing pains?
Don’t Miss: Best Way To Beat Seasonal Depression
Dealing With Adolescent Pressures
When teens feel down, there are ways they can cope with these feelings to avoid serious depression. All of these suggestions help develop a sense of acceptance and belonging that is so important to adolescents.
- Try to make new friends. Healthy relationships with peers are central to teens self-esteem and provide an important social outlet.
- Participate in sports, job, school activities or hobbies. Staying busy helps teens focus on positive activities rather than negative feelings or behaviors.
- Join organizations that offer programs for young people. Special programs geared to the needs of adolescents help develop additional interests.
- Ask a trusted adult for help. When problems are too much to handle alone, teens should not be afraid to ask for help.
But sometimes, despite everyones best efforts, teens become depressed. Many factors can contribute to depression. Studies show that some depressed people have too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Also, a family history of depression may increase the risk for developing depression. Other factors that can contribute to depression are difficult life events , side-effects from some medications and negative thought patterns.
Why Do Adolescents Get Depression
There are multiple reasons why a teenager might become depressed. For example, teens can develop feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy over their grades. School performance, social status with peers, sexual orientation, or family life can each have a major effect on how a teen feels. Sometimes, teen depression may result from environmental stress. But whatever the cause, when being with friends or family — or doing things that the teen usually enjoys — don’t help to improve their sadness or sense of isolation, there’s a good chance that they have teen depression.
Read Also: Things To Tell A Depressed Person
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.
Recognizing The Warning Signs
Four out of five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warnings. Pay attention to these warning signs:
- Suicide threats, direct and indirect
- Obsession with death
- Overwhelming sense of guilt, shame or rejection
- Changed eating or sleeping patterns
- Severe drop in school performance
REMEMBER!!! These warning signs should be taken seriously. Obtain help immediately. Caring and support can save a young life.
Don’t Miss: Is My 10 Year Old Depressed
Symptoms Of Teen Depression
How do you tell the difference between clinical depression and ordinary teen moodiness?
These are some of the signs parents may notice. If they last for at least two weeks, what you are seeing may be depression:
- An irritable, sad, empty or cranky mood and belief that life is meaningless.
- Loss of interest in sports or activities they used to enjoy, withdrawal from friends and family, pervasive trouble in relationships.
- Changes in appetite, significant weight gain or loss.
- Excessive late-night activities, too much or too little sleep, trouble getting up in the morning, often late for school.
- Physical agitation or slowness, pacing back and forth and/or excessive, or repetitive behaviors.
- Loss of energy, social withdrawal, withdrawal from usual activities, or boredom.
- Making critical comments about themselves, behavior problems at school or at home, overly sensitive to rejection.
- Poor performance in school, a drop in grades, or frequent absences.
- Frequent complaints of physical pain , frequent visits to school nurse.
- Writing about death, giving away favorite belongings, comments like Youve be better off without me.
Keep in mind that a lot of these symptoms are also indicative of normal teenage behavior. Thats why teenage depression can only be diagnosed by a trained health or mental health professional like a child psychologist or psychiatrist.
More from YourTango: How To Deal With Depression: 4 Simple Solutions
More related content from YourTango:
Teenage Depression: Things To Try At Home
If your child is suffering from depression, there are important things you can do to help in your everyday family life.
Physical health and wellbeing
- Encourage your child to make healthy food and drink choices. Make sure you have a variety of healthy foods in the cupboard and fridge, and offer tasty and nutritious options at meals.
- Get your child to do some regular physical activity. Staying physically active can help to improve your childs mental health. It might be as simple as taking a 10-minute walk every day to start with.
- Encourage your child to get enough sleep. If your child is having trouble sleeping, try not to let them nap during the day regardless of how tired they feel. Help your child make time for relaxing activities before bedtime and encourage your child to avoid screen time in the hour before bed.
- If you can, make sure your child avoids alcohol and other drugs. Using these to dull sadness or pain can make your childs problems worse.
Relationships and feelings
You May Like: Moderate Depression Vs Severe Depression
Why Early Intervention Is Critical
When a teenager is depressed, his suffering isnt the only reason its important to get help. In addition to the disorder itself, there are add-on effects that may cause lifelong issues. With depression symptoms comes include low energy and poor concentration, two factors that are likely to have a significant impact on social and academic functioning.
Its easy to see the effects of poor academic functioning: falling behind in school undermines a childs confidence and self-image, and can impact his future if its prolonged. But social learning is just as critical as academic learning in adolescence. Deficits in social skills not only put depressed teens behind their peers, but in themselves can compound their depression.
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
Also Check: Free Online Help For Depression
What Is Depression In Teens
Teen depression is a serious medical illness. It’s more than just a feeling of being sad or “blue” for a few days. It is an intense feeling of sadness, hopelessness, and anger or frustration that lasts much longer. These feelings make it hard for you to function normally and do your usual activities. You may also have trouble focusing and have no motivation or energy. Depression can make you feel like it is hard to enjoy life or even get through the day.
Talking To Someone About Depression
It may seem like theres no way your parents will be able to help, especially if they are always nagging you or getting angry about your behavior. The truth is, parents hate to see their kids hurting. They may feel frustrated because they dont understand what is going on with you or know how to help.
- If your parents are abusive in any way, or if they have problems of their own that makes it difficult for them to take care of you, find another adult you trust . This person can either help you approach your parents, or direct you toward the support you need.
- If you truly dont have anyone you can talk to, there are many hotlines, services, and support groups that can help.
- No matter what, talk to someone, especially if you are having any thoughts of harming yourself or others. Asking for help is the bravest thing you can do, and the first step on your way to feeling better.
Don’t Miss: Can Postpartum Depression Start During Pregnancy