As a parent, you may have often felt the blues when you are tied down with too much work and other responsibilities. But what about those times when your teen is in the throes of depression? Have you noticed these symptoms in your teen yet? Or have you noticed any change in your teen’s behavior that you are not sure is depression, but that certainly looks like your teen isn’t happy?
If you are worried about your teen’s changing moods and personality, maybe it’s time to understand all about teenage depression, how it affects and what you can do about it.
Teenage Depression – A Fact Sheet:
- According to a research group studying the prevalence of teen depression, here are some shocking facts and statistics that you may not have been aware of:
- Almost three to nine percent teens suffer from depression at one time or the other.
- By the time they are at the end of their adolescence, an approximate of 20 percent reach that stage in their life where they will experience depression for a lifetime.
- In a staggering 30 to 50 percent of cases that involve depression, including depression in teens, primary care physicians are not able to recognize the signs which often lead to misdiagnosis and unavailability of treatment (1).
Is It Possible For Teens To Go Through Depression?
Have you ever noticed your teen being grumpy or in a bad mood without any apparent reason, even though you thought there was nothing for your teen to feel bad about? While it is natural for your teen to go through mood swings and show signs of different personalities at different times, the fact is, it is also normal for your teen to feel depressed.
With so many changes going in life, both in the personal level within the family as well as outside in the academic world, your teen already has lot to deal with. Add to that the changing hormones and the chaos that comes with it and you will realize that your teen does have lot going on.
It is true that depression is not merely something that will pass away and should be given the amount of medical attention and care it truly deserves. With timely treatment and your support and love, it is possible to help your teen get out of depression entirely.
[ Read: How To Help Troubled Teens ]
Causes Of Depression In Teens:
There are various reasons that could lead to teenager’s depression. It is important for you to remember that not all teens behave or react the same way, and the way certain things will affect one teen may be different from the way it will affect yours. All teens have a distinct personality, and it is important to treat each teen in an individual way to understand what could be the cause of their depression. Here are few reasons for the causes of teen depression:
1. Academic Issues:
Once your child hits the teen years, there will be a lot of changes in the academic field. Your teen will suddenly experience more workload and pressure at school, and all the added pressure may suddenly make them feel overwhelmed. Also, some teens feel shy to ask for academic help, which means they take on all of the pressure on themselves, which can sometimes lead to failure. The fear of failure and the embarrassment of actually facing failure can lead to depression.
2. Peer Pressure:
The teen years are rife with peer pressure when your child will feel the need to impress those around and try to be part of the group. As a result, your teen may sometimes do things that they would not usually do and are not comfortable with, but carry on just to show everyone that they are like others too. All this can add a lot of negative pressure on your teen. On the one hand, your teen would not want to do all the things they do, but on the other, they find it difficult to back off. With so much confusion going on and all of it leading to a feeling of superficial fun, even though your teen is not happy, can lead to depression.
3. Social Status:
Sometimes, the teen years can also be riddled with the need to show oneself up in the social status. Whether it is new clothes, new accessories and gadgets, a new car or the ability to throw the best parties in the group, there is a lot of comparison and competitiveness that your teen may face in a group. In such a scenario, your teen may always feel the need to show that they too can do the same things as others, so that it will make them as popular as those who have that social standing.
[ Read: Stress Management Tips For Teens ]
4. Physical Intimacy Or Sexual Frustration:
The teen years are the times when your child will first learn to understand or feel the different physical changes that will happen to their bodies. As a result, it is also the time when your teen will feel confused with the many sexual changes that they will experience. While your teen will start experiencing certain sexual thoughts and attraction, they may not always be able to understand what to do about it. Also, with so much information coming their way about sex and all the related aspects, it can be a very difficult thing for your teen to understand and explore.
5. Traumatic Events:
Sometimes life can unfold a very cruel side to some.
- This is just unfortunate for a kid to go through any such trauma (mental, physical or emotional).
- Physical abuse, bullying, separation of parents, rancid home environment, death of loved ones etc. are some serious causes of depression in teens.
Symptoms Of Depression In Teens:
While you are trying to understand whether or not your teen is depressed, it is important to understand the difference between regular mood swings in your teen and depression. It is possible that sometimes your teen may just be going through normal mood swings that are associated with growing up, and you take them as signs of depression. It is also possible that your teen is depressed, but you think it is simply the growing up mood swings.
Adolescents express their distress differently compared to adults. Make sure you observe your teen properly and note the signs and symptoms. Here are some signs of depression in teens that you should keep a watch for: If you happen to observe one or more of these symptoms, you should immediately seek professional assistance:
- Problems in personal relationships
- Highly sensitive to failure or rejection
- Sudden increase in hostility, anger or irritability
- Extremely low self-esteem and confidence
- Inability of verbal communication and social isolation
- Low energy and persistently bored
- Diminishing interest in activities or reduced enjoyment in previous favourite activities
- Frequent lowering of concentration
- Tearfulness and sadness
- Efforts to run away from home or expression of such desires
- Drastic change in eating and sleeping patterns
- Poor performance in school
- Self-destructive behaviour, suicidal tendencies or expression of similar thoughts
- Involving in addictive activities like alcohol, smoke, drugs etc.
[ Read: Teenage Behavioral Problems ]
Diagnosing And Treating Depression In Teens:
If you suspect any of the signs and teen depression symptoms mentioned above, make sure you schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately. The doctor will do a proper diagnosis, based on which they will assess the type of treatment your teen requires. Here are some diagnosis and treatment options your doctor may suggest for your teen:
The doctor or psychologist will first speak to your teen and conduct a few interviews to understand the level of depression and the cause behind it. They may also want to talk to you and other family members and friends who spend a good amount of time with your teen or who know your teen well. Once all the data is collected from the various interviews, your doctor will suggest the type of treatment that will work best for your teen.
[ Read: Why Do Teens Run Away ]
Treatment For Teen Depression:
There are various methods that can help to treat depression in your teen. Here are a few methods that your doctor might suggest:
- The doctor may ask the entire family to do a collective counseling session if they feel that things in the family or any family conflict could be the cause of the depression.
- The doctor will also try to find out ways in which you can help your teen to come to grips with academic pressure and social issues if that is causing depression.
- If your teen is suffering from severe depression, the doctors may suggest hospitalization. It will help them to keep a close watch on your teen, especially if your teen is suicidal and has thoughts of self-harming.
- In some cases, your doctor may prescribe anti-depressant medicines for your teen. However, in such a case, the medications will only be given under close medical supervision.
[ Read: Signs Of Teenage Suicidal Behavior ]
Keeping An Eye:
At times, you may take a little too long to realize what your kids are going through and the situation worsens.
- You as a parent need to be a little conscious about your kids.
- At the same time you should avoid being imposing.
- It shouldn’t appear to your kids as if you are prying on them. This will only widen the gap he or she has been experiencing with you.
Depression is a serious mental condition that needs a lot of love and care from the family. If you suspect your teen is depressed, speak to the doctor immediately and stay supportive.
Moms, have you ever battled a depressed teenager or have you faced it as a teen yourself? How did you help overcome the same? Do share your experiences here so that it can help other moms who have teens.
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