While occasional bad moods or acting out is expected during teenage years, depression is something entirely different–something that, according to researchers, impacts roughly 1 out of every 5 teenagers and can have major effects on one’s mental health. Depression can be caused by environmental triggers (i.e., school performance, social status among peers, family life, etc.) or it can be the result of a hormonal imbalance. Depression, if left untreated, can become a serious problem and impact all aspects of a teenager’s life.
While depression presents itself in various ways, some of the more common symptoms of teenage depression are:
- Excessive sleeping
- Random change in eating habits (i.e., loss of interest in food, compulsive overeating, etc.)
- Feelings of intense sadness, guilt, or anxiety
- Withdrawal from friends and/or family
- Rebellious behavior
- Fixation on death and/or dying
- Low self-esteem
- Self-injurious behaviors
- Acts of violence towards others
- Unexplained aches and pains
The best way to figure out if your teenager has depression is to seek help from a mental health professional–if a psychological assessment indicates your teenager does have depression then there are various treatment options available to you. If you think your teenager might be suffering from depressive symptoms and would like to learn more about treatment options, please feel free to reach out to us for a free 20-minute phone consultation, and we can talk with you more about what your options for treatment are.
In addition to treatment options, you might be wondering what you can do to help your depressed teenager at home.
First, listen don’t lecture–It is important to address your concerns with your teenager in a non-judgmental way. A good way to do this is by creating a dialogue and simply asking your teenager what it is they are going through–be ready to willingly listen and avoid asking a lot of questions and/or lecturing your teenager at this time. If you do have questions, ask them gently and without a “quick-fix” solution in mind. You’ll do the most good by showing your teenager you are present and are there for them fully and unconditionally.
Second, make face-to-face time a priority–Set aside some time each day where you and your teenager can talk without distraction. In addition to keeping your teenager connected to you, encourage them to stay connected to others as well. Encourage them to go out with friends or have friends over. Help them get involved in activities (i.e., sports, after-school clubs, volunteer opportunities, etc.)–though your teenager may resist and lack motivation at first, as they engage more with those with similar interests and feel more connected to those in their social environment, they should begin to feel better.
Third, help them take care of their body–Do what you can to help your teenager learn the benefits of exercising regularly and eating healthy. Make sure they aren’t staying up late and are getting enough sleep, as well. If necessary, you might need to consider limiting your teenager’s screen time in order to manage the amount of time they spend online.
Knowing that depression is treatable is important. You and your teenager can navigate depression successfully and find ways to manage it. Being patient with your teenager, as well as yourself, during this time is essential in regard to the therapeutic process–just as you are working to not judge your teenager, do not judge yourself. As long as you are doing your best to get your teenager the help they need and support them then you are doing your job. Again, if you think your teenager might be presenting with some of the above listed symptoms of depression, or you have other concerns, please feel free to reach out to our practice and we would be happy to assist you.