As a parent, it can be hard to watch your child hurting, especially when you don’t know how to help them. When you see your child dealing with depression, it can feel overwhelming to get a handle on.
Depression seems like something a teen shouldn’t have to deal with. How can they be depressed when they’re in the prime of their life? Many parents feel guilty when their child has poor mental health and think it’s some shortcoming on their part.
In truth, both adults and teenagers can struggle with depression. Most often, a child’s depression has nothing to do with their home life. The best thing you can do for a depressed teen is to help them open up and be patient.
What is Depression in Teenagers?
Unfortunately, in spite of the best living conditions in history, more young people than ever are experiencing depression. That’s why it’s of paramount importance to communicate the significance of mental health.
Many people, teens especially, will avoid seeking help for fear of looking weak. They may even feel guilty for not being able to control their emotions. This is a very frustrating mindset to have, and it’s a tough one to break.
During such pivotal times in a teenager’s life, it’s essential for parents to teach their children about the signs and symptoms of depression.
Many teenagers don’t have a full grasp on depression and can’t distinguish it from other conditions like sadness or stress. If that’s true for your teen, they can’t see the signs within themselves and know when to ask for help.
By teaching them the symptoms of depression and anxiety you can help them learn how to cope with stress. This also helps them overcome any other mental health issues that they’re dealing with.
What Causes Depression in Teens?
Parents often wonder what their kids have to be depressed about. They aren’t dealing with any significant familial or financial responsibilities. They have it easy compared to the responsibilities we face as adults.
But that’s not the way we should be thinking about their situation. Remember what it was like to be a teenager. Many teens are experiencing stress for the first time in their lives. Without having the stress management skills we’ve developed over years of adult life; this can be overwhelming for a teen.
Teens can suffer from depression for a variety of different reasons. A common cause being academic pressure. This is especially true for high schoolers that are starting to worry about making the grades to get into a good college.
Another frequent source of depression in teens is from social pressures. The need to fit in and be liked can put a lot of stress on a teen. Being unable to make quality friends can take a toll on a teen’s self-esteem and result in depression.
Home life is sometimes another source of depression for teenagers. Was there a recent divorce in the family? Have there been any changes in the family dynamic lately? These changes can cause grief, and when grief goes unaddressed long enough it can become chronic and lead to depression.
Every teen is different and the causes for depression will vary from person to person. In some cases, it’s an amalgamation of various stresses that manifest as depression. The best thing you can do is talk to your teen and ask what’s on their mind. You will also want to keep an eye out for any signs that could suggest your child is depressed.
Signs That Your Teen Could Be Depressed
There are a variety of signs you should keep an eye out for that indicate your child could be dealing with depression. The most common symptoms include little energy or motivation, changes in appetite, trouble sleeping, poor performance at school, and isolation.
Every person is different, and the way depression will manifest depends on the individual’s coping strategies. You’ll want to keep an eye out for any behaviors that seem unusual for your teen. For example, one sign previously mentioned is insomnia, but for some teens, they may actually start sleeping more than usual.
There are other signs that may also indicate depression, but if any unusual changes persist for more than two weeks, it’s worth looking into. As with any indicators of declining mental health, you’ll want to get the issues dealt with before they get worse.
If you notice any signs of self-harm, then the issue needs to be addressed immediately. Some examples include cutting, burning, scratching, pulling out the hair or nails, and peeling off skin. If your teen starts to cover themselves with more clothes than usual, besides from a change in temperature, this could indicate either self-harm or low self-esteem.
How to Help
Sometimes depressed teens may not always be able to ask for help. As the parent it falls on you to get them the resource to battle their depression. Encourage your child to speak with you or another trusted adult who could help them manage their depression.
The most important thing you can do for your child is make them feel they can be open and honest with you about how they’re feeling. If they’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, you want them to feel like they can share that with you without getting upset. Issues like this aren’t always easy for a parent to deal with, but you have to be patient and respond empathetically.
If your child does not feel safe to opening up, you may not catch the signs that they’re depressed. When they do open up to you, you will want to help them understand what depression is and what their options are. Include them in discussions about mental health so they don’t shy away from getting help.
Counseling is also a good option for anxious or depressed teens. Discussing the various treatment methods with your teen and listening to their feedback is a smart first step towards recovery.
Remind them that everyone suffers from depression in their lives and that it takes strength and courage to get help. You can also remind them that depression doesn’t last forever and that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.