How to Help Teenagers Beat Depression
Teenagers go through many highs and lows in life, including depression. Parents can easily confuse moodiness with legitimate depression, which left untreated can have tragic consequences. For a teenager the pressure to conform at school, as well as trying to ground their identity, manage studies and social life is incredibly hard. On top of this teenagers are generally more selfish than mature adults and easily get drawn into their feelings and mood.
The modern landscape of social media hasn’t helped, with teenagers spending inordinate amounts of time online, often thinking about how to frame their lives in online profiles. This can often interrupt sleep patterns and cause them to detach further from reality in unhealthy and maladaptive ways.
Teenagers act out when depressed. There are warning signs that need to be addressed.
Call a doctor if you notice…
- New or more thoughts of suicide
- Trying to commit suicide
- New or worse depression
- New or worse anxiety
- Feeling very agitated or restless
- Panic attacks
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- New or worse irritability
- Acting aggressive, being angry, or violent
- Acting on dangerous impulses
- Being extremely hyperactive in actions and talking (hypomania or mania)
- Other unusual changes in behavior*
We like this little article in the Huffington Post about dealing with a depressed teenager. Key points in article and other articles about this issue include:
- Don’t mistake depression for moodiness. Pay attention to your child and watch for signs of legitimate depression.
- Reassure your child that you love them. Don’t dismiss or downplay problems.
- Pay attention to signs of more serious problems like suicidal ideation, increasing or decreasing sleep and alcohol and drug use.
- Don’t immediately try and reassure them. They need to feel the pain that comes alongside disconnection. Let them know that you are going to be there and help them deal with depression.
- Be gently persistent, a magical one-off conversation is extremely rare. Defensiveness is the norm, these layers need to be subtly eroded with care and time.
- Listen without lecturing and validate their experience and their feelings
Remember that caring for someone with depression involves a lot of self-care and management. It is so easy for the mental health issue to spread when family members are over-caring and over-investing in each other. After all they are your flesh and blood and you love and care for them deeply.
Try not to compare yourself to other families, just do what you need to do. Do your best and accept your limitations. For many, depression in the teenage years goes unnoticed and unattended, which often leads to a life with recurring episodic major depression or other mental health issues such as schizophrenia and alcohol and drug abuse.
Take this issue seriously and help your child through depression if they have it. Beating depression should start at the first time it surfaces in one’s life.
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