Teen Depression : A Guide For Parents [Guest Post]

Today I’m sharing a guest post from Katherine on a very poignant, important topic – teenage depression. Here she shares her thoughts on the symptoms and warning signs parents need to be aware of.

Teen Depression Symptoms & Warning Signs: A Guide for Parents

According to research compiled by Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, depression “affects about 20 percent of adolescents by the time they become adults.” Depression is a debilitating condition that represents much more than ordinary sadness. When a teenager is experiencing major depressive disorder, living their best life becomes much more difficult.

Over there past few years, teen depression has gotten notably more attention from mental health professionals. However, there is still a lot more research and work that needs to be done. Even if you are not a professional researcher, as a parent, you can make a major difference in your teenager’s lives.

If your teen appears to be suffering from depression, the first thing you will need to do is get a diagnosis from a physician. In this article, we will discuss some of the most important things for parents to know about depression. Though coping with this difficult mental health condition will be an uphill battle, it is certainly a fight worth fighting.

What are the signs and symptoms of teenage depression?

Depression (formally known as Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD) is a condition that can often be difficult to identify and diagnose. Depression is characterized by a consistently low mood, a negative outlook on life, and difficulties completing ordinary tasks.

Diagnosing depression in teenagers is especially challenging. Many teenagers will exhibit signs of angst or the desire to be alone, but this does not always mean they are depressed. Depression is much deeper than “typical” teenage behavior. Changes in eating habits, changes in sleeping habits, and patterns of self-harm are often associated with depression.

Photograph of a crying woman with running mascara, holding a piece of paper with a smile across the bottom half of her face.

Teenagers who are depressed will experience a loss of self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence. They may also begin developing an especially negative worldview and begin consistently talking about death. Often times, the emotions exhibited by teens who are depressed will have no clear connection to the world around them. Losing interest in things they once enjoyed is particularly common.

How do I know if my teenager is depressed?

Unless you are a licensed physician, you alone cannot diagnose depression. The signs and symptoms of depression have strong overlaps with other conditions (bipolar disorder, PTSD, substance abuse disorders), meaning that a proper diagnose will require a nuanced approach.

If your teen has been exhibiting the signs and symptoms mentioned above, you should schedule an appointment with a teen psychologist. The psychologist will be able to determine if your teen is experiencing depression and they may also be able to identify contributing factors. As a parent, your primary role will be to offer unconditional love and support along the way. Closely monitoring changes in your teen’s behavior can connect them with the help they need before the condition gets worse.

What are the causes and risks of teenage depression?

Depression is a condition that takes place along a spectrum, meaning its causes and effects will vary by individual. Every instance of depression will be unique. According Harvard Health, “there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems.”

Depression can be caused by both genetic and environmental factors. Excessive social media use and substance abuse issues have also been identified as major contributors. Once an individual is depressed, many aspects of their life may begin to suffer.

Photograph of a girl with her head in her hands crying.

The risks of untreated depression include patterns of self-harm, exacerbated substance abuse, and even suicide. Experiencing difficulties maintaining relationships, holding down a job, and performing in school is not uncommon. Over the past decade, the teen suicide rate has increased by nearly 40 percent. In order to help protect your teen from these risks, it will be important to take action early.

What are the best treatment options for teenage depression?

Because depression is a common mental health condition, there has been a considerable amount of research looking for possible solutions. Once diagnosed, your teen will need a treatment plan that is as unique as they are.

At first, your teen’s doctor will likely prescribe anti-depressants or other related medications. Individual therapy sessions, group therapy sessions, and experiential treatments can also be incredibly beneficial.

If your teen’s signs and symptoms of depression worsen over time, residential treatment may be necessary. Residential treatment centers offer higher levels of care than other programs. They have also proven to be effective, when needed. Regardless of your child’s current treatment modality, as time goes on, your teen’s treatment plan will need to be adjusted. Consistently following up with a medical professional will be very important.

Conclusion

Many parents of depressed teens are unsure where to begin their search for a solution. After talking to your teen, trying to understand what they are going through, and getting a proper diagnosis, you’ll be moving in a positive direction. Though depression can indeed be a very debilitating condition, many teens who are depressed are able to overcome their condition and go on to live very fulfilling lives.

Written by Katherine Finberg.

[ This is a collaborative guest post & as such the ideas expressed here are that of the author. ]

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25 Comments

  1. July 23, 2019 / 4:16 pm

    I belong to a walking group and our chosen charity for the first half of the year was papyrus which works to prevent suicide among young people. I hope you don’t mind me including the number for their hopeline tel:0800 068 41 41 It is a sobering thought that suicide is the leading cause for the under 25’s. I am glad you discussed this topic keep up the good work.

    • July 24, 2019 / 5:48 pm

      That’s very thoughtful & helpful of you, Anne. Thank you  ♥

  2. July 23, 2019 / 4:29 pm

    whew! sobering & imporant – tx Caz & Katherine

  3. July 23, 2019 / 4:39 pm

    The warning signs are hard to spot, maybe harder in a one-parent household. I think the best thing to try to do is keep communication going with teens. That’s hard to do today but just as important as it use to be before mobile phones. Social media can trigger depression and its hard for teens to get away from it. Today moving away doesn’t help at all.

    I think parents should have access to at least some of the social media their kids are using. To see what’s being said to whom might prevent bad decisions from impressional young minds.

  4. July 23, 2019 / 4:58 pm

    This is so important for parents of teens to know. Getting the help that’s needed is essential.

    Have a fabulous day, Caz. ♥

  5. Megala
    July 23, 2019 / 5:44 pm

    Great post! I would recommend every parent to read this article.

  6. July 24, 2019 / 7:55 am

    Some people still think depression doesn’t exist in teenagers, but they are wrong. I hope this post helps to raise awareness.

  7. July 24, 2019 / 2:20 pm

    A great post. We know more and more teenagers suffering from depression 🙁

  8. July 24, 2019 / 4:51 pm

    Happy yuo shared this. All parents need to know this.

  9. Barbara Grace Lake
    July 24, 2019 / 10:16 pm

    This is a topic that has bothered me for some time. Teenaged angst and depression (from many causes) results in the ending of young lives that could have eventually benefited mankind with their compassion and sympathy. I wrote about one cause with the following:

    NO
    © 2019 Barbara Grace Lake

    Adorable her aunties thought
    At her first timid “no”
    In time those no’s became less shy
    Ear splitting, thunderous roar
    You’ll have to train her, now they said
    Or she’ll a rebel be

    Approaching her, so malleable
    Unwisely they began
    To rid fore’er her lexicon
    Of “no,” and “no,” but “no”
    You must be pleasant, compromise
    Was skewered in her brain

    At twelve her dates were parties, groups
    Of scarcely less than eight
    School dances, miniature golf or films
    Activities allowed
    Her preference often set aside
    Refrained from saying “no”

    As children do she reached sixteen
    And dates for real began
    Engagements still were innocent.
    With kiss upon the cheek
    Her Mom’s last cautionary words,
    “Be sure you’re home by ten”

    Progressive school curriculum
    Sex education gave
    The mother said “not for my child
    Enticing her to sex
    She’ll learn in marriage what she needs
    And all she needs to know”

    When handsome high school quarterback
    Proposed a date with her
    He claimed her in his father’s car
    They went for food and beer
    She later could not tell him “no”
    Virginity was lost
    But quarterback her bête noir
    His avid teammates told
    Too many relished giddy news
    Of how a virgin crashed
    In after days she stayed at home
    Lay sobbing in her room

    Her friends, distraught, abandoned her
    Adults who might have helped
    Instead increased their cruel abuse
    “Loose, common slut exposed”
    All hope, all sense of self-worth gone
    She ended her own life.

  10. July 25, 2019 / 2:59 pm

    As Mom to a severely depressed teen, I appreciated this article. More attention and awareness needs to be given to this debilitating disease and all that goes with it. I think it of crucial importance too, to mention that concussions can significantly contribute to, or cause, teenage depression. It’s not often discussed or mentioned, but parents should be made more aware-especially when their child plays a sport. Teen depression and self mutilation can tear families apart and bring them to their knees. Less stigma and more publicized knowledge can help. Thanks for the important post, Caz!!

  11. July 25, 2019 / 4:15 pm

    Such an important post. We don’t discuss depression enough, but especially depression in teens. I feel so bad for these children who already have so much on their plate, who feel hopeless and alone on top of it. Thanks for helping to raise awareness!

  12. July 26, 2019 / 12:47 pm

    I am so grateful to you for bringing attention to this Caz. It breaks my heart so much to hear in the news about how many teenagers and adults alike are ending their lives due to depression. It’s a wretched disease that clouds your vision so much. You just lose sight of everything – your value, your dreams, all of it. As a child (and adult), I suffered terribly from anxiety and depression but it wasn’t handled properly. Far too often, that is the case. The worst part is how that lack of care affects you later in life.

    I once heard the saying, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” When you’re in the thick of it, sadly, it doesn’t feel temporary and nothing seems as though it will ever improve. So painful. My heart breaks for anyone going through depression, anxiety, low self-worth or mental illness of any kind. It changes lives. It’s so easy to lose yourself in it. I know firsthand how devastating the impact is.

    Only making matters worse is how few people understand the gravity and toll it takes. When you hear things like, “Oh, just smile – you’re ok!” Or “You should be more grateful.” It makes me sick because they don’t understand and only further compound the feelings of loneliness. We MUST do better in supporting our community suffering with these issues.

    Thanks for being one who cares and listens, my friend ♥

    • July 27, 2019 / 4:00 pm

      I’m so sorry you’ve struggled yourself with anxiety and depression; I’m not too sure, having experienced them myself as a child and adult, which age is it’s more difficult to deal with. You’re right, support early on when you’re young needs to be there, and it’s sadly often lacking. Those sorts of comments you refer to absolutely drive me up the wall, along with “oh it can’t be that bad”. There’s still a lot of ignorance and misunderstanding, and it’s something you can only truly appreciate if you’ve experienced it yourself. Empathy and more knowledge would go a long way though in helping others. As a community, a society, we need to do more, as do schools, governments and the media. Thank you so much for sharing this, Holly  ♥
      xx

  13. July 26, 2019 / 2:19 pm

    It’s very sad – depression is so common amongst young people nowadays. I have some young relatives who have suffered and it is pretty heartbreaking knowing how much it can change their lives. Really good article.

  14. July 28, 2019 / 1:01 pm

    As an educator, I have to be diligent in recognizing and reporting symptoms, too. I worry so much for my students who battle with depression.

  15. July 29, 2019 / 2:30 am

    It’s definitely a topic everyone must read and be aware of especially in the age of excessive social media use etc. Thanks for sharing a great post indeed,.

  16. July 29, 2019 / 7:04 pm

    Thank you for posting this. It’s important.

  17. July 29, 2019 / 10:51 pm

    THank you for this information!

  18. July 30, 2019 / 10:59 am

    I only realise now, that looking back, I was definitely depressed and had anxiety disorder as a teenager. But I didn’t have names for these feelings until I was much older.

    So important for parents to be aware of the signs because not all teens experiencing them notice it themselves.

  19. Dr. Prashant
    August 9, 2019 / 1:58 pm

    Excellent Job

  20. August 23, 2019 / 9:56 pm

    I appreciate this, immensely. I wish when I was a teen that all these great articles had been out.

    Thank you,

    Tamara

    • August 24, 2019 / 9:02 am

      Same here. There was nothing when I was a teen really about mental health, no kind of support or ‘you’re not alone’ initiatives. My parents didn’t have a clue, either. It’s good to see things are changing and there’s more awareness.x

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