Teen Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental health concerns and unfortunately, teens are not immune to facing depression. Parents and family members can often feel helpless when a loved one is dealing with depression and not know how to help, especially since teens may not be forthright about their depressive symptoms. Many of us do not want to admit when we are struggling and teens are usually no different. They may act surly, withdrawn, and cranky or sullen and quiet which may be mistaken for typical teenage behavior instead of a mental health concern. Confronting teens about their behavior can sometimes backfire as they may be embarrassed or worried about others reactions to their depression. It is still worth talking about, but be prepared that you might not get a straightforward answer and may get some moodiness or avoidance.

As a parent it can be hard to know what is typical teenage behavior and what necessitates professional help. Some of the following signs may alert you that your teens behavior has moved beyond being hormonal and moody and in need of counseling or professional help:

  • Sudden difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Fatigue, irritability, tearfulness
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Trouble completing homework or tasks, difficulty concentrating, forgetful
  • Isolating self from friends and family
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Stomachaches, headaches, or other physical complaints with no clear cause
  • Expressing a lack of desire to participate in life, not able to see the good in life, not able to see the point of life or point of living
  • Self harm
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

Teens with depression are at an increased risk of self harm and suicide attempts and counseling can be an effective treatment method to manage depression and help prevent depression from worsening and teens from becoming suicidal or acting on suicidal thoughts. When it comes to depression it is absolutely better to act on the safe side.If your teen is showing signs of being suicidal, get help. Talk about it with them and find out if they have a plan and means to complete their plan and if they do, act. Bring them to the local emergency room if they are actively suicidal. For more resources visit the Beyond Blue website.

If you are concerned about your teens mood, individual or family counseling may be a good option. Family Therapy for Depression has be shown to be effective, especially teen depression. How can family therapy help alleviate depression? So often those who struggle with depression struggle alone. They may isolate to try and cope with their sadness and pain. This can leave siblings and parents confused and unsure how to help. The depressed individual may have trouble talking about their symptoms and may fear that the family will tease them, feel burdened by their sadness, or not understand them. Using a family therapy approach can help by teaching the whole family how to cope with depression and helping the depressed individual see their family as a support.

Written by Katie Claus, MA, LAMFT

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