Teen and adolescent depression is a serious condition that can have long term consequences on a young person’s future. Teen with untreated depression are more likely to have trouble in school, and more likely engage in risky behavior, like unprotected sex. Teen depression statistics from TeenDepression.org state that about 20 percent of teens will experience some form of depression before adulthood. Teenagers can experience depression no matter what their gender, socioeconomic background, race, or level of achievement. If there is a teen in your life who seems to be exhibiting signs of depression, you can help them get the help they need.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there is no single cause of youth and adolescent depression. Some teens are more prone to becoming depressed than other, due to genetic factors and lifestyle stressors. However, there are many common symptoms of depression that you can look for in children and young adults. The most common symptoms include low energy, apathy, frequent crying, excessive weight loss or weight gain and a change in sleeping patterns.
Many times parents and teachers overlook the common signs of depression because they seem so similar to normal adolescent behavior. Being apathetic, angry, or sad may be seen as just a normal part of growing up. However, if these symptoms persist and increase in severity over several months, parents should try to talk to their teens about depression.
Teen and adolescent depression can be overcome with cognitive behavioral therapy, prescription medication, and/or mood boosting activities. Speaking with a counselor will help teens understand why they are feeling down and develop ways to overcome stress so it won’t be a problem in the future. A doctor may prescribe prescription drugs if the depression is a result of a hormonal imbalance or an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain. A professional will also be able to determine if the teen is suffering from minor or major depression. Minor depression normally only lasts a few months and can be overcome with a short course of treatment. Major depressive episodes can be much worse and may lead to suicide. Mood boosting activities like exercise and journaling can help a teen deal with the symptoms of depression and change their perspective.
Coping strategies need to include the entire family and not just the depressed teen. Since depression is the leading cause of suicide, it’s also important to have open and honest discussions about it if a teen is depressed. Parents of depressed children and teens can learn their words and actions can help or hurt their child’s condition. Sometime family therapy can help get to the core of what is causing youth depression. There are also depression prevention programs available that can help families prevent a minor depression episode from becoming major depression. These programs will give you strategies to overcome problems as a family.
In general, a higher level of support from parents has been proven to protect children from major depressive symptoms. By showing your child that you care, taking interest in their problems and respecting their feelings, you can go a long way toward preventing teen depression.