Being a teen is a difficult time as they experience hormonal changes, the need to determine who they are and where they fit into the world around them, as well as the normal challenges that life throws at people from time to time. It is normal to feel depressed or unhappy at times throughout life, especially so for teens as they navigate this intense period of their lives.
When teenagers become unable to see through their situation they can become ‘clinically’ depressed where they are unable to find meaning or any form of pleasure in life. Life can seem empty and meaningless with no escape.
Their depression can easily become a serious health problem.
Teens often fail to find help to deal with their depression. This is even more likely with boys where they may feel it could be seen as a sign of weakness.
Approximately 1 in 8 teens suffers from depression at some stage as they move through their teenage years. There is no reason for them to feel abnormal or ashamed. It is a normal reaction to the difficulties of navigating this difficult period.
Without support during this time, teens can develop unhealthy coping methods such as substance abuse, negative behavior that can lead to making trouble at school or work, risky sexual behavior and poor relationship decisions. Untreated depression can even lead to attempts at suicide.
If you are experiencing depression, it is important that you find someone you trust to help you navigate this difficult time.
However, teens often rely on others to recognize the pain that they are experiencing. They need understanding and support to navigate this period of their lives. That is why it is important that parents, teachers and significant people in their lives become aware of the symptoms of teen depression so that they can offer helpful support.
Symptoms of Teenage depression
Many of these symptoms are normal occasional teen behavior, but where this behavior persists it suggests that they may be struggling with depression.
They may withdraw from their friends and family and always seek solitude.
They may lose interest in any activities that may have once given them pleasure.
They may have fragile moods and easily be moved to tears or crying.
Irritability, anger, and hostility are common behaviors as they feel they are not understood or do not fit in.
Their school work may deteriorate.
Eating habits can often change
They can have poor concentration, lack of enthusiasm, or feel worthless with no sense of purpose.
Many of these symptoms are common behavior for teens, but when they exhibit a number of these, depression is probably involved.
What options are available to help teen depression?
Medication has been often used to help with teen depression but studies are increasingly showing that it is not an effective option.
In addition to this, the frontal lobes in a teen do not fully develop until they are 20 to 25 years old. The use of anti-depression meds is increasingly being shown to be contraindicated before the ages of 18 to 20 years old at the earliest.
Depression must not be ignored. It can become very damaging if not dealt with.
Depression can even lead to suicidal thoughts. If you suspect a friend or you yourself are considering suicide, immediate help must be found. 24-hour help can be found in the US at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. Other countries have their own lifeline agencies that can be found online.
- Your biggest help to a depressed teen is to listen to them rather than lecture them about what they need to do. A good starting point is where they are able to start communicating with you how they feel. the greatest help you can offer is to simply let them know that you are offering them your unconditional and full support.
- Your concern will probably not be accepted at first. Don’t give up. With gentle persistence, you can let you know that you love them and are concerned about them.
- Allow them to feel understood and supported. They will probably not feel comfortable discussing their concerns at first, their concerns may even seem trivial to you, but it is important to understand that their concerns are important to them. When you are able to acknowledge their pain you will be helping them to feel supported and that you are starting to understand their pain.
- It is important that they find help for their depression. If you have a genuine concern for them but they deny anything is wrong, trust your intuition and find help from a trusted third party. You could discuss your concerns with their teacher, their doctor, a school counselor, or another trusted parent and friend. The most important thing where teen depression is concerned is to start them talking to someone.
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