Teens go through so many intense changes all at once that it can be a bit overwhelming. Without a strong support system and a healthy outlet for their stress, they can quickly slip into a depressive state.
Recognizing Teen Depression
Most teenagers are moody and predictable, which makes it
difficult for parents to tell whether they’re depressed or just being a
teenager. The main symptoms of teen depression are failing grades, unexplained
outbursts & violence, poor personal hygiene, self-destructive behaviors,
sulking and excessive sleeping or insomnia.
One symptom on its own may appear meaningless but several symptoms
could be a sign of something bigger.
Causes of Teen
Being a young adult who is in the process of finding his or
her place in life is stressful. Most teens experience self-doubt and social
anxiety, which are made worse by bullying and peer pressure.
Some teens also suffer from traumas and chemical imbalances,
which make them likelier to slip into depression.
Sadly, untreated depression can be deadly. Depressed teens often experiment with risky behaviors such as drugs and sexual promiscuity, which can scar them for life.
Even worse, many depressed teens have suicidal thoughts. Everyday
a teen commits suicide as a result of depression, and every year the total
number of teen suicides increases.
What Parents Can Do
As a parent, there are steps you can take to save your
child. Start by talking to them and offering a listening ear. Sometimes that’s
all they need.
Try not to be judgmental, critical or dismissive, even if you think what they’re going through isn’t a big deal. It’s a big deal to them and that’s all that matters! Your job is to be supportive.
Think back to when you were a teen and how you felt. Consider sharing some experiences so your teen knows he or she is normal. Most importantly, share how you got through those challenging times, and let them know that you’ll get through this together – that they are NOT alone.
If your teen doesn’t want to talk, help them find a positive outlet for their stress. Get them involved in healthy extracurricular activities such as sports, music, or volunteerism.
If you suspect your teen’s depression is at an advanced stage or they are having suicidal thoughts, they need to see a doctor as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment.
The doctor may prescribe medication to manage their depression. It’s your job as a parent to make sure your teen follows whatever protocol your healthcare professional has outlined to improve their mental health.
Lastly, if your teen is having problems at school, get their school guidance counselor involved because it can help them feel safer at school and also be a source of encouragement and support for making better choices.
Parenting a teen is all about assuring them that they aren’t navigating this big scary world alone, while also allowing them some independence. Doing this makes them feel safe and lets them know that they are loved and supported by the people (you and your family) who love them most.