For many parents, facing the fact that your teen has a mental health condition can be terrifying. As one of the most common mental illnesses, teen depression is experienced by millions all over the world and should not be ignored. No matter your age or background, you may experience depression, which can impact every aspect of your life. Depression robs you of the simple joys of your daily life and can lead to other mental health conditions or other issues, such as drug or alcohol abuse. Depression is difficult for anyone to confront and handle and it is particularly challenging for teens.
Here, we’re taking a closer look at teen depression, common signs of depression in teens, and how you can help your teen if they’re suffering from depression. You may feel helpless if your teen is experiencing depression or any other mental health condition, but it’s important to realize that you can still make a difference. Read on to learn about how you can help a teen understand and then cope with symptoms of depression.
WHAT IS TEEN DEPRESSION?
Depression is much more than simply feeling sad or feeling like you’re in a funk for a few days. Depression is a medical condition that affects millions of individuals all over the world regardless of age, race, ethnicity, or gender. According to the Mayo Clinic, depression can be understood as a serious mental health problem that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities.
Depression can be a chronic condition that affects your entire life. Teens with depression may be overwhelmed with these feelings of sadness and hopelessness, which can then make them withdraw from the activities and people they normally enjoy. Of course, the occasional mood swing is perfectly normal for a teen, but when the sense of sadness begins to impact the quality of their life, your teen may have a real and serious mental health condition.
SIGNS OF DEPRESSION IN TEENS
While every case of depression is unique for the individual, there are common signs that can help you realize if your teen is suffering from this mental health problem. Generally, the signs of depression in teens tend to be chronic, lasting over an extended period of time, which differentiates depression from simply being in a bad mood or having a bad week. When these signs last for an extended time, it may be time to seek out professional help. Common signs of depression in teens can be broken down by either an emotional change or a behavioral change. Here’s a closer look into the common signs of depression in teens:
- Intense and prolonged feelings of sadness.
- Feeling empty or hopeless.
- Low self-esteem.
- Very sensitive to rejection, failure, or making mistakes.
- Loss of interest in activities and making connections.
- Trouble focusing and concentrating.
- Outbursts of anger (often over small issues).
- Thoughts of death, self-harm, or suicide.
- Lack of energy.
- Social isolation.
- Poor performance in school.
- Outbursts of anger.
- Paying little attention to their appearance or hygiene.
- Often agitated or restless.
- Physical aches or pain.
- Using drugs or alcohol.
If you notice your teen (or any loved one) experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be the time to open the discussion and see how you can help. However, it’s also important to realize that exhibiting one or more of these symptoms does not mean that your teen has depression. Teen years are notoriously turbulent and certain actions, such as irritability or issues sleeping, could easily point to other issues. This is why it’s so important to talk with your teen to assess what exactly they need.
HOW TO HELP A TEEN WITH DEPRESSION
If your teen is suffering from depression, it may initially seem overwhelming. You’re not a doctor, so how could you possibly help them through this condition? What matters most is that you begin with open and clear communication. You may not be able to completely help you teen understand and cope with their depression, but you’ll still play a critical role in helping direct them to the appropriate source of help. It’s important to first have the conversation and try to understand what exactly your teen is experiencing.
If you and your teen agree that additional help is needed, you should then consult your doctor or a trusted mental health professional. If you’ve never worked with a mental health expert before, your general practitioner will be able to refer you to a trusted and experienced individual who can help.
In many cases, psychotherapy or “talk therapy” is extremely effective in helping people recognize and then cope with their depression. Depression doesn’t simply go away, but you can develop habits that help you deal with the symptoms and live a happy, healthy, and productive life. Of course, each case of depression is unique, which is why it’s so critical to work with a professional who can diagnose and then develop a personalized treatment plan.
CONCLUSION: HOW TO HELP A TEEN WITH DEPRESSION
Millions of people all over the world experience depression. While individuals of any age may experience this mental health disorder, depression is often prevalent in teens and young adults. Dealing with depression makes the struggles of adolescence even more challenging as they have to cope with daily challenges while combating depression. While teen depression is certainly a challenge, this doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. If you notice the symptoms of depression in teens in one of your loved ones, you can take steps to help them.
There are many ways to help a teen who is experiencing depression. First, it’s important to listen and open the lines of communication. Talking about this mental health condition and actually confronting it is a very important and often difficult first step. Focus on coming from a place of love and compassion when beginning this conversation. If your teen wants to seek out professional help, contact your doctor for a referral to a trusted mental health expert. By working with an expert in the field, you can set your teen on the best path toward recovery and get them the help they need.