COULD YOUR TEEN BE DEPRESSED?
Depression is something that impacts every area of life and can have serious ramifications if it is not addressed and treated expeditiously and effectively. Oftentimes, depression can first appear in the teenage years, and as many as 1 in 5 teens will experience a depressive episode at some point. The teen years are full of change, new experiences, stress, and pressure from society, school, family, and friends; all of this can sometimes become overwhelming for teens, leading to the development of depressive symptoms. Especially in the last year and a half of living in the COVID-19 pandemic, teens have been struggling to handle the rapid changes and stresses of life, leading to more teens experiencing symptoms of depression as well as other mental health issues.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Symptoms of depression can vary widely between different individuals, and in teens, it can sometimes be harder to tell the difference between these symptoms and “normal” teenage behaviors. Being able to detect and address these symptoms in your teen can help to prevent life-long issues. Some important things to consider when on the lookout for symptoms of depression in your teen are how long the symptoms have been present, how consistent the symptoms are, and what sort of impact they are having on your child’s daily life. It is normal for teens to experience shifts in their moods, activities, and habits due to events happening around them and in their lives, as well as their ever-changing hormone levels. However, if these changes seem to come about suddenly, or with no explanation, last for 2 or more weeks, and are creating obstacles to your teen’s daily functioning, they may be cause for concern. Some of the symptoms to be aware of in regards to depression are:
- Changes in mood
- New or worsened feelings of anxiety
- Agitation or restlessness
- Changes in thought patterns
- Excessive self-blame
- Memory issues/forgetfulness
- Low self-esteem
- Somatic (physical) symptoms
- Unexplained aches or pains
- Trouble sleeping/too much sleep
- Lack of energy
- Significant weight loss or gain
- Impulse control problems
- Taking part in risky behaviors
- Drug/alcohol abuse
- Self-harming behaviors
- Lack of regard for physical safety
- Changes in their routine
- No longer finding joy in typical activities
- Negative shift in school performance
- Skipping school/classes
- Major shift in eating habits
- Social changes
- Issues in relationships/friendships
- Self-isolation, not hanging out with friends as much as normal
- Major shift in friend group
- Suicidal thoughts/ideations
- Making a suicide plan
- Attempting suicide
- If your teen is exhibiting any signs of suicidal ideations or actions, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
HOW TO TALK TO YOUR TEEN ABOUT DEPRESSION
No parent wants their child to experience depression, and the topic can be a difficult one to broach. However, it is important to remember that these discussions could be life-saving for your teen, and often they are simply in need of your support as they experience these feelings. When beginning a conversation with your teen about depression, keep these things in mind:
- Approach the subject with sensitivity; your teen may not fully understand why they feel the way they do, and could be holding judgment against themselves for it; show them that you are not there to judge, but to help.
- Ask questions; see how long they have been experiencing these feelings, and how they have been impacted by them.
- Normalize, don’t minimize; assure your teen that there is nothing bad or wrong about experiencing these feelings, and that there are resources available to help them; do not simply tell them to “cheer up” or “snap out of it;” if they could, they probably would.
- Suggest treatment options; research has shown that psychotherapy is extremely effective in helping to alleviate symptoms of depression and other mental health issues; sit down with your teen to research potential counselors to see who would be the best fit for them.
- Support them through the experience; assure your teen that you are available for them to come to you without judgment or punishment; provide them with a safe space to speak openly about their experiences; encourage them to use the skills that they are learning in therapy in their daily life and help them to practice self-care.
WE ARE HERE TO SUPPORT YOU
At SBS Psychological Associates, we are here to help people at every life stage to heal, grow, and feel empowered to live their life to the fullest. Our experienced team of counselors, led by clinical psychologist Dr. Shirley Boone-Sanford, PhD, will walk with you and your teen through this difficult stage of life by providing expert skills, tools, and support. If you or a loved one is in need of help, please contact us at 678-205-0838 to begin your healing journey.