Being a teenager is not easy road, and evidently, depression in teenagers is actually fairly common. Studies show that about 15-20 percent of all teenagers suffer from depression. Now, with mood swings prevalent among teenagers, due to their hormones and such, it is not uncommon to have short periods of time where they may be upset or irritated. But when these moods extend on for weeks and weeks, they may be suffering from teenage depression, which is far more serious. Simply being upset for a few days over a bad day at school in itself does not justify as depression. But when things begin to pile up, and these negative emotions have been present for weeks, there may be a case of teenage depression, and you should seek the help of a mental health professional.
How Come Teenagers Suffer from Depression?
There are a vast number of answers here, as the causes of depression in teenagers vary greatly. Academics, for example, can play a big role. Increased stress over their academic standing (eg. their grades in their classes) can be a huge stressor, and eventually lead to depression. Furthermore, social status is extremely important to teenagers, and when a blow occurs to their social standing, it can be devastating and lead to them feeling like they don’t belong anywhere; they aren’t wanted. There are three major factors that lead to depression in teenagers, and these include genetic factors, biological factors, and environmental factors. Of these, the one most commonly attributed to depression in teenagers is environmental factors. Again, environmental factors are basically things going on in their life; school, relationships, and so forth. These can be major stressors, and many teenagers still do not have the capacity to deal with these, which can slump them into a depression. Though there are a number of causes of depression in teenagers, environmental factors generally trump all others.
Symptoms of Teenage Depression?
Teenagers suffering from depression will generally be very easy to notice, as they will basically withdraw themselves from many things they were once a part of. They may stop hanging around with their friends as much, they may spend hours in their room, door closed, doing absolutely nothing. Often times, depression in teenagers can lead to them acting out irrationally, and even take part in activities that they may once have never taken part in (violence, drugs, theft, etc.). Unfortunately, the majority of teenagers are unable to open up to their parents and admit that they need help. Thus, it is extremely important that as a parent, or an adult figure, that you watch for the following symptoms of teenage depression:
- back pain
- decreased academic performance
- disobedient behavior
- loss of memory
- loss of motivation
- loss of appetite (or on the other hand, abnormally increased appetite)
- talk of death and/or suicide
- trouble focusing
- withdrawal from social group (not spending time with friends)
- taking part in alcohol consumption and drug use
Does Teenage Depression Have Anything to do with Genetics?
Studies are still not conclusive, but researchers believe that teenagers who have parents that suffered from depression during their teenage years have an increased chance of suffering from teenage depression.
Diagnosis of Teenage Depression
Like most mental health disorders, there is no way to determine if one is suffering from teenage depression, aside from being evaluated by a mental health professional. Through a series of questions, a professional will be able to determine whether one is suffering from depression or not.
Depression in Teenage Girls
Depression in teenage girls is slightly more common, and those girls are at higher risk of attempting or comitting suicide. Mental health professionals know this, and will take appropriate treatment measures based on the severity of the depression, and also the gender of the individual.
Treating Teenage Depression
Unlike any case of depression, there are a number of ways to treat teenage depression, with the two most common being anti-depressant medications and psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is similar to talking to a psychiatrist; they will talk with the teenager, and try to figure out why they may be depressed, and what can be done to solve those problems. As far as anti-depressant medications, it is essential to know that many of these medications can cause increased depression. Only a medical professional can determine if anti-depressant medication is appropriate for the specific individual.
Recent studies show that when administered correctly, anti-depressant medications can be extremely effective in treating depression in teenagers. Studies show that although psychotherapy is effective, it is far more effective when medication is administered simultaneously. Shortly put, a mix of the two is far more effective in treating teenage depression, than just one treatment option alone. Though it is not surefire way of treating depression, it is currently one of the most effective methods.
As a Parent, How can I Help my Teenager?
Being a parent is an extremely difficult job, and being a parent of a teenager is definitely no easier. Teenagers are figuring out who they are, and as a result, it can be extremely difficult to deal with them. There are a number of things you can do as a parent to help your teenager if you suspect s/he is suffering from depression:
- Punish your teenager appropriately, but attempt to do it in a positive way. Excessive punishment and unreasonable consequences can lead to depression, or make existing cases more severe.
- Let them learn from their own actions and mistakes. Trying to “baby” them can cause teenagers to feel like they are not trusted, and this can lead to depression
- Allow them to make their own decisions; do not try to make their life decisions for them
- Keep a healthy relationship with your teenager. Speak with them regularly, even if it seems like they don’t want too
Lastly, if you truly feel that your teenager is suffering from a severe case of depression, seek help from a medical health professional immediately. Teenagers have volatile emotions, and there is no point in taking any risks. In some cases, despite being the greatest parent in the World, and following the tips above, other factors may be out of your hands. The only option may be seeking help from a medical health professional.
Is Treatment Absolutely Necessary?
As a parent, it can be difficult to admit that your teenager may have a bad case of teenage depression. Though in many cases, teenage depression does go away eventually, it is likely to come back, especially if they have suffered depression at least once in their lifetime. Thus, it is definitely recommended that you get them professional help so the root of their depression can be uncovered, and chances of further depression are minimized greatly. It’s important to keep in mind that teenagers are often dealing with hormonal changes, thus depression in teenagers should not be taken lightly.