Teenage Depression: How Can You Help Your Child?
Parents need to learn to recognize the signs of teenage depression because this condition is on the rise. Approximately 3 million adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 will experience at least one episode of depression in any given year, and these numbers continue to grow. It is important for the adults in their lives to know what to look for, the signs and symptoms, and then where to turn for support and treatment.
What to Look For
Teenagers can be moody, but depression is different. It is not your teenager having a couple of bad days. It is much more serious than that, and it will span over a two week period or more. The most common behaviors linked with depression in teens are irritability, aggression, and rage. Teen depression can lead to substance and alcohol abuse, pregnancy, violence, self-mutilation and many other undesirable behaviors. Here are other signs you may notice:
- Loss of interest in activities
- Excessive guilt
- Changes in behaviors like sleeping or eating
- Lack of concentration
- Thoughts of suicide
- Poor school attendance
- Grades suffer
- Reckless behaviors
- Online addictions
- Withdrawal from friends and family
How You Can Help
The first thing you should do is try to start a conversation with your teen. Let them know that you have noticed changes in their behavior. Don’t ignore the fact that there is a problem.
The number one thing you can do to help your teen is letting them know they have your support. How can you do that?
- Take time to talk to them every day
- Praise their strengths
- Let them talk to you in a judgment free environment
- Listen to them
- Try to put yourself in their shoes
- Validate their emotions, but not the poor behaviors you have seen
- Offer positive feedback
- Do not show anger and aggression with them when they lose their temper. Instead
use calming reassurance.
Next, hire a psychologist. Make an appointment even if your teenager says they do not want to go. The only person they may talk to is the psychologist. An unbiased third party with the right training and skills may be just what your child needs to heal.
How is Depression Treated in Teens?
Treatment will depend on the severity of your teenager’s depression symptoms. Many times a psychologist will use a combination of talk therapy and medication. Your child’s doctor will discuss medication options with you if they feel it is necessary. The combination therapy usually proves to be very effective for most teens.
Further steps will be taken if your teen has severe depression or is in danger of hurting themselves. At this point, they may need to stay in a hospital or might need to participate in an outpatient treatment program. These stays or programs are temporary, and your child will be released when their symptoms improve.
Try to remember that the teenage years can be a trying time in every child’s life. By letting your child know that they have your unconditional support, you can help your child learn to cope, grow, and lead a normal and happy adolescence.