Wed. Apr 1st, 2020

Parenting Tips

From Parenting Coach Dr. Clarity

Sad teen girl in a hoodie that has bunny ears

Teen depression is rising. Over three million teens from the age of 12 through 17 have had one or more severe depressive episodes within the last year. The National Institute of Mental Health states that teens who are dealing with depression is also having bouts of anxiety. These teens are usually using drugs to cope with their depression and anxiety, which makes it difficult for parents to detect their teen is depressed.

Teen depression and adult depression symptoms are quite different. Teen depression symptoms could include very moody, irritable, sleeping during the day, and staying away from adults, but adult depression symptoms could include extreme insomnia, sadness, loneliness, and staying away from friends and family members.

Sad Boy with head in his arms

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that approximately twenty percent of teens that has depression gets treatment, which leaves eighty percent of teens (Approximately 11 million) are never treated for depression, which is why teen depression is sky rocketing.

Depression in Teens

Depression can start in children as young as six years of age. Depression in teen girls have increased substantially. Although, depression in teens is rising, the American Academy of Pediatrics conducted a study, and the study reveals that there hasn’t been an increase in teenager depression treatment. The American Academy of Pediatrics are recommending that routine depression screening should be done on all children and teens starting at the age of 10 through the age of 18 years of age, because parents and doctors aren’t seeing the depression symptoms and signs.

Teen Depression Statistics

  • Nearly 4% of adolescents from the age of 6 through 12 years of age have severe depression
  • Over 20% of girls has had more than one depressive incident
  • 6% of boys from the age of 6 through 12 years of age has had more than one depressive incident
  • Nearly 70% of adolescents that are depressed haven’t received any treatment
  • Only 2% of adolescents that has been diagnosed with depression are being treated with only medicine
  • Approximately twelve million depressed teens are not being treated

What Exactly is Teen Depression?

Teen depression is an illness that is also referred to as a major depression disorder. The teen depression can affect normal and routine daily activities. Teen depression can be very serious, especially if the teen never gets the proper treatment. Depression can occur at any age, and symptoms can start as early as six years of age.

What is Major Depressive Order?

Major depressive order is also referred to as clinical depression. Major depressive disorder has the most severe symptoms, and the symptoms can occur at any time and last for extended time periods. Teens that have major depressive order have a very hard time dealing with regular activities, normal sleeping patterns, and eating. Teens that have had a major depressive disorder are prone to having more bouts.

Major Depressive Disorder Symptoms

  • No interest in favorite activities
  • Can’t concentrate
  • Very fatigued
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Insomnia
  • Worthlessness feelings
  • Extreme weight loss or weight gain
  • Very sad
  • Has thoughts of suicide
  • Alcohol and drug usage

Teenagers that is suffering with major depressive disorder have a higher risk of committing suicide, which is why diagnosing teens early, then providing the proper treatment can save teens.

What Causes Major Depressive Disorder in Teens?

Major depression disorder can be caused from a variety of things in teens. Teen major depressive disorder can be prompted when there is a death in the family, trauma, or relationship fighting. Teens today are dealing with problems that never occurred years ago, which is social media. For teens, the main cause for anxiety and depression is with social media platforms. If a teen compares their personal life to friends or celebrities that they follow on social media, they begin to become depressed. Teens today don’t know how to deal with difficult challenges, and parents who are shielding their teens is the cause. A teen brain is still growing, and they just don’t have the ability to control impulses.

Different Forms of Depression

There are different forms of depression, which include:

  • Persistent Depressive Disorder: Persistent depressive disorder can last for two years, and is also known as Dysthymia. Persistent depressive disorder can have bouts of major depression, and also deal with symptoms that isn’t severe. All symptoms will last two years.
  • Postpartum Depression: Postpartum depression is a mild depression that usually goes away in approximately two weeks. Some women may experience major depressive disorder while they are pregnant.
  • Psychotic Depression: Psychotic depression is severe depression along with psychosis symptoms. The person may have delusions, or hearing voices that nobody else can see and hear.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder: Seasonal affective disorder usually happens to people in the winter months. As soon as spring arrives, the depression will leave.
  • Bipolar Disorder: Bipolar disorder people experience major depressive disorder, which is called bipolar depression as it happens to people who has bipolar disorder.

Remember, not every teen that is depressed will have every symptom. Some teens will only be suffering from a couple symptoms, but some teens will be suffering with many symptoms.

Teen Depression Signs

Being sad is a common emotion that everyone experiences, and usually it passes with time, but depression is more than just being sad. Here are a few questions parents should ask themselves about their teens:

  • Is your teen always sad and anxious?
  • Is your teen feeling hopeless?
  • Is your teen irritable?
  • Does your teen withdraw from the family and spends their time alone?
  • Are your teen’s grades failing?
  • Has your teen stop doing favorite activities?
  • Have your teen’s sleeping habits changed?
  • Does your teen have less energy?
  • Is your teen having problems concentrating at school?
  • Do you think your teen has thought about suicide?
  • Has your teen ever done self-harm?

Why Are There So Many Depressed Teens?

Teen depression is at the highest currently than it has ever been. Why are there so many depressed teens?

  • Sadly, every 100 minutes in the United States a teen will commit suicide.
  • The third leading death cause in the United States is suicide, which impacts 12-18 years of age.
  • Only 20% of depressed teens are getting proper treatment.
  • Female teens occur twice as much as they do with male teens.
  • Teens who have experienced trauma is more at risk for depression.
  • 50% of depressed teens have a family member that suffers with depression.
  • Depressed teens that have not been medically treated are more at risk for drug and alcohol abuse.

There are numerous reasons why teens deal with depression. Poor performance at school, sexual preference, and family issues are just a few reasons why teens become depressed.

Is Your Teen Depressed?

How can a parent distinguish from normal teenager moodiness and teen depression? It is very normal for teenagers to have mood swings, and they just want to be by themselves. If your teen is still very moody in two weeks, then parents should start looking for teen depression signs. Depression is occurring more with teenagers than it is with adults.

Teen Depression Questions Parents Need to Answer

  1. Is your teenager sad? Is your teenager usually a happy teen?
  2. Has your teenager starting to become very angry?
  3. Is your teen no longer happy with things that they used to enjoy?
  4. Has your teen stop spending time with their longtime friends?
  5. Does your teen start crying over nothing important?
  6. Has your teen’s appetite changed?
  7. Did your teen quit playing sports that they loved to play?
  8. Is your teen sleeping more? Is your teen having problems sleeping?

Parents if you have answered yes to two or more questions, then you need to have a talk with your teenager. For example, parents can start a conversation by saying this; “Is there something going on with you? You are normally a very happy person, and lately you are very sad. What is happening?” Hopefully, your teenager will open up with you.

Parents should also contact their teenager’s physician. Your teen may feel comfortable talking to their physician than with you. The main thing that parents don’t want to do is to let the teenager’s depression signs handle itself. The main cause of suicide with teens is depression. If your teenager says they don’t want to live, then parents should immediately contact a professional physician. Do not wait.

Why Doesn’t a Depressed Teen Reach Out to Their Parents?

Teen brains are in the developing stage, which makes them have an imbalance with their hormones along with the ability to control their impulses.

5 Top Reasons Why Teens that Are Depressed Doesn’t Reach Out to Their Parents

  1. Embarrassed – Teens don’t want their parents to be disappointed with them.
  2. Scared – Teens are scared that something major is happening.
  3. Hopeless – Teens think there is no hope.
  4. Dependent – Teens feel like their parents should know what is going on.
  5. Wishful Thinking – A miracle is the only thing that can help the teen.

How is Teen Depression Diagnosed?

The first way to get a diagnosis for a depressed teen is by taking the teen to their personal doctor. The doctor will check for any underlying health problems that could be causing the depression with the teen. The doctor will do a physical exam, then the doctor will order lab tests such as blood work, etc. If the doctor doesn’t find any health problems causing the depression, then the doctor will recommend that your teen undergo a psychological assessment. The psychological assessment will ask your teen a few questions, which include:

  • What are your current feelings?
  • How are your grades?
  • Are you having issues at school?
  • Has your eating and sleeping patterns changed?
  • Do you use alcohol or drugs?
  • Do you think about suicide?

Once the psychologist asses the teen, then treatments will start.

How is Teen Depression Treated?

There are a variety of depression treatments available for teens. One thing parents and teens must know is there isn’t a magical pill that can be taken to remove all depression.

Teen Depression Treatments:

  1. Talk Therapy: Talk therapy is also known as counseling and psychotherapy. Talk therapy includes seeing a therapist, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a counselor, and/or a social worker. Talk therapy will teach depressed teens to control their feelings. The teen will be able to talk about their feelings, moods, and emotions through talk therapy, and the professionals will understand what you are going through. Teens will be able to have self-confidence, which will make them feel better too.

There are several different varieties of talk therapy for depressed teens. A couple of them include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is a talk therapy where teens will learn how to change negative thoughts into positive ones. It will also teach teens how to cope too.

Interpersonal Therapy – Interpersonal Therapy or IPT will help the teen focus on relationship healing. IPT will help teens understand what is going on with relationships that are troubled, which always contributes to teen depression. IPT works by teaching teens to change bad behaviors.

  • Medication: Medications are suggest for teen depression, and they will be added with talk therapy. Antidepressants have been researched and have been proven to benefit teen depression. If your teen is prescribed medications for their depression, then you will want to make sure your teen see’s their doctor on a regular basis.

Facts for Antidepressant Medications:
It can take several weeks to a month for antidepressant medication to start working.
If one antidepressant medication doesn’t work, then you will be trying another.
It can take several weeks to find the right dose that works for your teen.

Sometimes, suicidal thoughts could increase when taking antidepressants. The risks usually happen within the first couple of weeks of taking the medication or if the dosage has changed. Parents need to make sure they tell their teen if they are having any suicide thoughts or they feel worse to let them know, so they can contact the doctor immediately. Teens should never stop taking their medication.

  • Hospital: Some depressed teens whose depression is severe may need extensive treatment such as a psychiatric hospital. Teens will often fear when they hear psychiatric hospital. Parents need to reassure their teen that they are not crazy, but need this type of treatment until they can get their depression under control.
  • Adventure Therapy:Adventure therapy is held in an outdoor setting, and it focuses on physical challenges such as rock climbing, hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, and ropes. All of the professionals that conduct the physical challenges are all trained. An adventure therapy allows teens to escape from the depression by doing physical changes that gives depressed teens confidence and trust.
  • Equine Therapy:Equine Therapy is an amazing healing therapy. The depressed teen will be working with horses, because horses are very sensitive with teen’s feelings. The teen and horse connection help teens with their emotions and behavior. This type of therapy is perfect for teens who really don’t want to participate in any talk therapy. Depressed teens will learn about their feelings, emotions, and themselves when they are working with the horses and therapists.
  • Holistic Therapy: Holistic therapy is becoming more popular with teen depression. Holistic therapy has been very effective over medication for teen depression. The holistic therapy includes exercise and nutrition. Research was conducted and has found that with thirty minutes of exercise twice a week, provided more results for teen depression than antidepressant medication. Eating a well-balanced diet has been proven to work excellent with teen depression. In just three months, the depressed teens that participated in the study was completed in remission with their depression.

What Should Parents Do if They Believe Their Teen is Depressed?

The first thing parents should do if they believe their teen is depressed is to talk to their teen and ask if there is something going on at school, on social media, or at home. Parents will need to make an appointment with their teen’s doctor. The doctor will want to run tests, because some medical issues can make depression come on. Parents will want to make sure their teen is eating healthy and getting plenty of sleep. Parents should limit the time that their teen is on their phone or tablet. Parents should also encourage their teen have fun with their friends.

Providing Safety for a Depressed Teen

Keeping your teen safe is very important. These helpful tips will assist parents in keeping their teen safe.

  • Ask your child if they are being bullied. Bullying is one of the major causes of teen depression.
  • Reduce any stress for your depressed teen. Depressed teens can’t tolerate much stress.
  • All guns, knives, and medications should be locked up.
  • Work with your teen to cope with problems positively.
  • Make chores and tasks smaller, so your teen can feel like they accomplished something.
  • Try to get your teen to open up.
  • Try to get your teen involved in physical activities.
  • After your teen has been diagnosed with teen depression, make sure they follow all treatments.
  • Let your teen know that it can take several weeks for any medication to work.
  • Keep an eye out for any suicide signs.

Depressed Teen Parenting

One of the most important things parents can do to help their depressed teen is having “positive expectancy”, which means believing that change can happen. Parents need to make sure their teen doesn’t feel guilty because they are depressed. Parents need to let their teen understand that mental health problems are very common in all people of all ages, and it can be treated. Teen depression doesn’t define your child. The first thing parents can do to help their depressed teen is always being there for the teen.

Tips for Depressed Teen Parenting

  • Always be supportive
  • Be compassionate
  • Be a listener
  • Don’t be judgmental
  • Don’t try to solve the teens problems
  • Notice the positivity with your teen
  • Tell your teen you are proud of them
  • Parents need to take care of themselves

What Should Parents Do if the Treatment isn’t Working?

If your teen has already started treatment for their depression, but your teen says it isn’t helping, what should parents do? Parents should ask their teen why do they think the treatment isn’t working? Parents can ask their teen what they don’t like about their therapy? Together, you and your teen can find a different therapist if your teen isn’t comfortable with the current one. It is very important that parents let the current therapist know beforehand why you are trying to find another therapist. Sometimes the therapist can change things that will make the teen more comfortable. If your teen isn’t committed to therapy, then the therapy probably won’t work. Your teen will want to benefit from the therapy.

Medication Risks

All medication comes with risks, and antidepressants were first created for adults. Some doctors are very concerned in giving teenagers antidepressants because their brain is still developing.

Depressed Teens on Antidepressant Medication Risks

  • Thoughts and talks of suicide
  • Depression is worse
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable worsen
  • Angry
  • Violent behavior
  • Anxiety is worse
  • Panic attacks
  • Restless
  • Gestures of suicide
  • Hyperactive talking
  • Behavior changes

During the first sixty days of your teen taking antidepressants is when suicide risks are elevated. Parents need to monitor their teenager to see if their depression is not improving, and they have any of the antidepressant’s medication risks mentioned above.

Treatment for depressed teens can be rocky at first. Parents need to be available to listen to their teen while supporting them too. Parent’s need to hear that you care and love them and they are accepted.

Parents Need to Notice Positive Behavior in Depressed Teen

It is going to be a difficult time when your teenager is depressed. Parents will experience different emotions, which include exhausted, aggravated, despair, and draining. It is very important that parents remember that your teenager is suffering with depression right now, but they can get better. Parents need to be understanding through the therapy process. Parents need to be very patient. When there is a victory, then rejoice in it, but remember there could be setbacks occasionally. Parents who are getting their depressed teen the help they are needing, are doing their parenting job.

Parents shouldn’t neglect their own needs as this can happen when parents are using all their energy focusing on their depressed teen. Parents should also get support too. There is counseling available for parents with depressed teens. Parents need to make sure they are getting plenty of sleep and eating healthy too. If the parents get sick, then they are not going to be able to help their depressed teen.

Things Parents Can Do During Teen Depression Treatment

These tips will help parents when their depressed teen is going through treatment:

  • Stay active
  • Don’t isolate yourself
  • Don’t change employment
  • Wait to decide important decisions
  • Spend time with family members and friends
  • Research and learn about teen depression
  • Never blame yourself
  • Give special attention to other children
  • Set up time for one-on-one with your teen
  • Try to get your teen interested in dance, sports, or other activities
  • Keep your teen active with friends and family members

Conclusion:

Teen depression will continue to damage your teen if it isn’t treated properly. The symptoms will not just go away on its own. If your teen has signs of depression, then you should immediately contact the doctor, and start talking to your teen. Parents can start up the conversation with their teen by saying, “I’ve noticed you have a few depression symptoms, and I’m very concerned”. Parents don’t want to ask too many questions, because most teenagers will feel pressured, then they won’t answer your questions. Parents can ask their teen if they would like to talk about what they have been feeling, etc.

Many parents often wonder if their teenager is depressed or if they may be just going through ‘growing pains’. If you are unsure if your teenager is depressed, then go over the teen depression symptoms posted above, and see how many symptoms your teen has. If there are several symptoms is present, then you should contact their doctor. Teenage growing pains can occur with hormones and stress, but if the symptoms continue, then your teenager is probably depressed.

Parents that think their teenager is suicidal they should immediately take action. Call 911 for emergency services. Many cities have a psychiatric emergency team that will come to your home to assess your teen’s safety. Take this very serious. Parents can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. This is a 24-hour support line for parents and teens. Parents can also visit www.suicide.org and www.iasp.info. These websites provide plenty of teen depression information and tips for parents who believe their teenager is depressed and possibly suicidal.

Parents are used to making their child feel better, and it is difficult for many parents when they learn that their teen is depressed. This is the time that your teenager will need you to be supportive and not judgmental. This is a rocky road for many parents, but in time you will start seeing results.

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