Many families fail to detect teen depression because it can be hard to distinguish between everyday teenage angst and teen depression. But every parent needs to be aware of teenage depression because it can change how a child thinks, feels and behaves. This mental issue can also affect how a teen functions in school, interacts with others and deals with everyday life. Unless depression is properly treated, a depressed teen can't function in society or live a normal life. Therefore, understanding this terrible malady and treating it are vital to help your child reach adulthood.
What Are the Symptoms of Teenage Depression?
The best way to tell the difference between depression in teens and normal emotional turmoil is to understand its symptoms.
1. Emotional Symptoms
- Feel anger, frustration, grumpiness or irritability for no apparent reason
- Feel sad or crying for no reason, particularly in girls
- Loss of interest in hobbies, sports, entertainment, social activities, school, academics and the like
- Develop conflicts with friends, family, teachers, classmates, coworkers, teammates and others for no apparent reason
- Cut off contact with friends or family
- Become very sensitive to failure and rejection
- Start putting off or ignoring decisions, schoolwork, tasks and chores
- Have trouble concentrating in school
- May become obsessed with death, weapons or suicide
2. Behavioral Symptoms
- Change in sleep pattern like starting sleeptoo much or stays up all night
- Fatigue and complaining of being tired and not having energy
- Start to use alcohol or drugs and get into trouble
- Become lethargic or slow
- Ditch class, have falling grades or miss work
- Neglect appearances and stop bathing or shaving
- Develop risky behaviors such as driving too fast, breaking the law or hanging out with the “wrong crowd”
- Change in appetite such as overeating or lack of interest in food
- Deliberately harm himself or herself by cutting, burning or mutilating his or her body
3. Signs of Suicidal Tendencies
Depressed teenagers may tend to have suicidal thoughts. Bear the following signs of suicidal tendencies in mind to prevent tragedy from happening.
- Teens might become obsessed with death, writing about death, reading about death, listening to songs about death and researching death online.
- Starts treating suicide as a joke, entertainment, or something positive or romantic. Might start watching movies or videos about suicide.
- Feels trapped. May begin talking about being better off dead or death is the only way out.
- Becomes interested in instruments of death, such as weapons, poisons or pills. Might start researching executions or other means of ending life.
- Starts acting as if he or she will never see friends or loved ones again. Might give away or sell possessions or say goodbye.
- Starts to behave recklessly, like driving too fast or start engaging in violence.Unexplained injuries could be a sign of this.
Check out the following video to learn more about how to distinguish teenage depression and how to get close to the depressed teens:
How to Deal With Teenage Depression
Teenage depression is tough on everybody. Here are some basic steps both teens and their families should take to deal with it.
1. Dealing With Suicidal Tendencies
- Call a suicide hotline, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Visit Suicide.org to find help outside the United States.
- Reach out to a mental health professional such as a therapist, psychiatrist or psychologist. Your clergyperson, school counselor or doctor can help you find such a professional.
- Make sure that you alert everybody the depressed teen comes in contact with, including school authorities, friends, family members, coworkers, teachers, clergy, coaches, etc.
2. Avoid Isolation
The more isolated a depressed teen is, the worse the condition is likely to get.Restrict activities that involve isolation, such as video games, web surfing, texting and reading.
Try to keep the teen active and involved. Keeping the child involved in normal social activities and around peers that are good role models can help. In some cases, a change of location, such as a vacation or a visit to the grandparents, can help.
3. Do Exercise Regularly
Make sure the depressed teen is eating right and exercising regularly. Scientific studies have shown that a proper diet and exercise can help a person overcome depression. Take steps to keep the teen active by encouraging him or her to run, walkor ride a bike. Get the teen involved in sports, dancing, martial arts or other physical activities. The endorphin rush from exercise can help a person overcome depression.
4. Keep the Teen Away from Alcohol and Drugs
Parents should keep alcohol and mood altering drugs, such as prescription painkillers, out of the house if a teen is depressed. Drugs and alcohol can increase suicidal tendencies, so watch the teen closely. Make sure he or she is not hanging out with the wrong crowd. If he or she appears drunk or high, you should get help immediately.
5. Ask for Help When Necessary
There are many professionals that can help with depression, including clergy, school counselors, therapists, doctors, etc. Make sure you reach out to such a person as soon as symptoms of depression develop.
6. Take Medications
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved 2 drugs for treating teen depression: fluoxetine (Prozac) and escitalopram (Lexapro). These should only be taken with a doctor’s prescription and under constant medical supervision. Medications should only be administered if the teen does not respond to psychological counseling.
In extreme cases of teenage depression, such as those that involve self-mutilation, suicide attempts, alcohol and drug use, violence, violations of the law, or risky violation, hospitalization might be necessary. A psychologist or psychiatrist will be needed to help you find such a program and get the teen into it. Once the hospital stay is over, the teen might need to get involved in an outpatient program.
8. Other Measures of Dealing With Teenage Depression
- Watch what the teen eats, and, if necessary, take steps to keep him or her away from junk food.
- Let the teen make some decisions or take some responsibility to build confidence.
- Be tolerant of mistakes and failures. And try not to lecture the teen and start listening to him or her.
- To motivate depressed teens by using positive reinforcement such as praise instead of pressure.
If you want to know what causes teenage depression, how to help teens get rid of depression and other related information, check out the video below: