A Parent’s Guide To Adolescent Depression

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Image credit: istockphoto.com/portfolio/bymuratdeniz

Most teens have their temperamental moments, but when their dispirited mood lasts for a few weeks or longer, it may indicate depression. Adolescent depression is one of the most prevalent mental health conditions among teenagers today. By recognizing the signs early on, parents and caregivers can intervene to provide the support and therapy needed to effectively help in treating and managing depression.

 Why is adolescent depression common?

While genetics can play a role in mental health, young individuals face unique challenges with social media and peer pressure, as well as other issues related to personal relationships. 

Depression and mood disorders can also be triggered by modern lifestyles that are characterized by a lack of community and family engagement, less exercise, unhealthy diets, and unstructured and constant connectivity to technology.

Symptoms of depression in adolescence

Depression has a detrimental impact on a young person’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior. Understanding the symptoms of depression can help parents and caregivers prevent, detect, and get treatment for their teenagers sooner rather than later.

  • A lack of drive and motivation: They quickly grow bored with activities they used to enjoy and put little effort into basic chores or schoolwork.
  • Negative outlook: Teenagers suffering from depression are very self-critical, and constantly find fault with others with a focus on mistakes and disappointments.
  • Unhappy emotions: Depressed adolescents are tearful, irritated, or express feelings of emptiness and numbness.
  • Insomnia: It is common for teenagers who are depressed to sleep more than usual and still have trouble getting up when they need to. Sleep deprivation can exacerbate depression.
  • Poor academic performance: Depression manifests beyond mood and emotion. Cognitive abilities are affected too such as forgetfulness, diminished concentration, producing substandard schoolwork and getting low grades.
  • Behavioral changes: They may show less interest in food and lose weight, or they are overeating and gaining weight. Depression can also lead to risky behaviors, substance abuse, and self-harm.
  • Suicidal thoughts: Watch for warning signals, monitor their behaviour, and pay attention to anything out of the ordinary. If you suspect your teen is suicidal, you need to talk to them and get emergency assistance.

What are the causes of depression in adolescence?

Teens may become depressed for different reasons caused by one or more factors that can include the following:

Genetics

The parts of the brain that control mood and energy are influenced by genes that can be inherited. If depression runs in the family, your teenager may be at risk of developing it as well.

Traumatic life events

Loss, hardship, conflict, and divorce can all play a role in triggering depression. Even if bad events occur in infancy and early childhood, deep-seated memories can resurface causing depression.

Home environment

Any type of abuse experienced by young people triggers a wave of hormone changes that rewires the brain to survive. Abuse and neglect have long-term consequences mentally and emotionally.

School performance

Overscheduling, academic pressures, or struggling academically can be a significant source of stress that can contribute to teenage depression.

Social status with peers

Social status, friendships, bullying, and social media are very impactful elements in a teenager’s life that can cause anguish, undermine self-confidence, and lead to depression.

Medical conditions

Depression brought on by a chronic condition can make it worse, creating a vicious cycle. When an illness results in discomfort, disabling symptoms, or social isolation, depression is more likely to happen.

Sexual orientation

Teens questioning their sexual orientation are also more at risk of depression as they make sense of their identity. Being different from their peers, they may experience abuse or bullying, which can be psychologically damaging.

Is there adolescent depression treatment?

Teenage depression can be successfully treated with several evidence-based approaches, such as cognitive and behavior therapy, and group therapy. Teenagers who are receiving treatment become more enabled in minimizing harmful habits, building resilience, and reestablishing good family ties and healthy boundaries.

What can parents do to alleviate teen depression?

Teenagers are particularly emotionally and psychologically vulnerable during adolescence and they will always need parental love and acceptance. There are ways to help your teen boost their mental health and prevent or better manage adolescent depression.

Provide care and support

By empathizing with your teen, you increase their trust in you and give them the confidence to open up about their struggles and deeper emotions. Understand their feelings in detail and pay attention yet refrain from bombarding them with questions. Look for a mentor who can relate to your teen if they are hostile or won’t talk to you.

Encourage positive peer relationship

Teenagers can be awkward with their raging hormones while trying to fit in and find their place in the world. Encourage your teen to engage in fun, healthy activities, and to participate in a team sport. It builds a sense of belonging and provides an outlet for emotions.

Healthy sleep routine

Teenagers who sleep poorly may be more susceptible to poor mental health in the future. Encourage frequent exercise, which helps depression by producing endorphins naturally and encourages better sleep patterns. Teenagers who don’t get enough sleep may struggle to control their emotions, impulses, and mood.

Getting outside help

Seeking out professional assistance together with your teenager develops accountability and gives them more control over their life decisions. Through talking about their experiences, exploring their depression, and developing coping mechanisms, youth can investigate and treat their depression with the aid of therapy.

Why is it essential to get professional help for your adolescent?

While parents and caregivers can positively influence teen behavior, depression is a medical disease that necessitates medical attention. All these warning indicators should make you aware of a potential need for professional counseling. 

Consulting a parent’s guide to teenage depression even before suspicions or symptoms occur can help you be easily prepared to easily spot signs and get the earliest intervention.

In which cases should you refer to a specialist?

The risk of suicide attempt risk rises with depression as well as the use of self-medicating with alcohol or illegal drugs. When depression is left unchecked, it can have devastating results. 

Teenagers typically depend on parents, teachers, or other caregivers to detect their suffering and get them the help they need. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand what teen depression looks like and what to do when you notice the warning signs.

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