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.
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.
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.
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. ]