The image has almost become a stereotype for today’s youth. Your teen walks in and avoids looking at anyone until safe in the confines of his or her bedroom. While many parents are apt to label this issue as a “phase,” the teen could be suffering from depression. Unfortunately, “letting it go” is the worst option for parents, but the worst option is actually burying your child. Parents must take a moment to learn more about depression in teenagers before a tragedy strikes.
Prevalence of Teen Depression
The truth about teen depression is startling. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), these facts include the following:
- 2.8 million of teens between the ages of 12 and 17, experienced at least one major depressive episode within the last year in 2014
- Female teens are more likely to suffer from teen depression than teen males
- The risk for depression increases as teens approach age 17
- 12.5 percent of mixed-race teens and 12 percent of white teens suffer from depression
Signs of Teen Depression
- Intense feelings of sadness
- A sensation of emptiness or hopelessness
- Being angry, cranky, or frustrated
- Not caring for once-enjoyed activities, such as extracurricular activities
- Weight change
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Excessive fatigue
- Difficulty remembering, concentrating, and engaging in critical thinking
- Problems falling asleep or staying asleep
- Sleeping too much
- Talking or moving much slower than usual
- Feeling restless, anxious, or nervous
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
Treatment for Teen Depression
A combination of psychotherapy (talk therapy) and medication is often the most effective treatment for teen depression. Psychotherapy involves a conversation between the depressed teen and a therapist, who may be a psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor or social worker, to discuss what is causing depression. The therapist will further help teens understand how irrational thought processes develop and how they can be altered. This will allow teens to build confidence and improve mood. In addition, interpersonal psychotherapy may help teens learn to develop relationships with peers or family members to help reduce the symptoms of depression.
Medication treatment of depression is slightly more involved than psychotherapy. If a mental health professional feels medication treatment is necessary, he or she may prescribe antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, or other medications if depression is a result of another mental health disorder. For example, depression as part of bipolar disorder may require the use of mood-stabilizing medications to effectively manage teen depression.
Parents cannot ignore teen depression, and those who do risk paying the gravest of prices. Parents must understand what teen depression is and how to appropriately deal with it to ensure the health and safety of their teen.