Trying to fit in and find yourself during your teenage years is tough. There are constant changes in friends, clothing style, likes, and dislikes. On top of the changes teens experience, they have to keep up with school work, and after school activities. There is a lot of pressure for them with unrealistic academic, social and family expectations, which brings on emotional highs and lows. One of the lows they can experience is depression. Depression has been on the rise for teens as years go by, and they feel like they go through these tough years by themselves. We all remember what it was like being a teenager, feeling alone and like our parents do not understand us. Take the time to talk to your kids, notice the signs, and get help when needed.
One in five teens will experience depression. Statistics show the number of teens experiencing depression has climbed by over 40% over the past couple of years. Of those numbers, nearly half of them were in the hospital for suicide attempts or thoughts. It is important for parents to identify if their kid is experiencing depression, because if it is left unnoticed, it can be harmful, and even deadly. Symptoms can include:
- Social withdrawal
- Anger or agitation
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Difficulty concentrating
- No motivation
- Guilt or worthlessness
- Poor school performance
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Poems or writing about suicide
In order to avoid the feelings of depression, a lot of teens may experiment with drugs or alcohol. Some may even use sex as an escape of their feelings. These are temporary fixes, and can lead to self-destruction. These behaviors will lead to ruined relationships with friends, and family, which will worsen their depression. The more serious the depression gets, the worse the outcome, including suicide. Some teenagers may feel like the only way to escape these feelings is by ending their lives. Some may seek help to avoid these feelings, while some kids keep a happy appearance but struggle internally.
How To Help
If your kids are acting different, take the time to talk to them and find out what is bothering them. There are different approaches to take to provide support and help.
- Pay attention- Ask questions and notice the signs of depression.
- Listen- Take the time to listen to the teen’s problems, talking about their feelings. Do not lecture them, just listen, and offer help.
- Exercise- Exercising promotes mental health. It releases hormones that make you feel good. Suggest going out together and get active.
- One on One Time- Talking with your child helps to reconnect with them. Make them a priority.
If things do not improve, there are ways to treat depression:
- Group therapy- Talking about what is going on internally with other people who feel the same builds a sense of belonging. They understand the struggle and create support for each other to help get through it.
- Psychotherapy- Talking with a therapist or counselor will help with limited cases of depression.
- Medication- Doctors may prescribe antidepressants, which are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. It is very important to make sure this is necessary by a psychiatrist, because of the risk these medications come with. The FDA issued a warning of kids and teens taking these because of increased risks of suicidal thoughts.
Anxiety accompanies depression, and with kids on their phones more than ever, anxiety has increased in teens. Some of these anxious feelings will increase a person’s feelings of despair and hopelessness. Depression is on the rise for teens with all the expectations they feel they must achieve. Between trying to excel in school, be accepted socially, and make their parents proud, it can become overwhelming. Not to mention the issues they may be going through in all of these areas. Talk to your kids, and notice the signs because a lot more kids are experiencing depression more than ever. Reach out, you may be saving a life.