Determining Whether Its Clinical
Like adult depression, teen depression comes in many different forms. It can vary in intensity from a fleeting state of melancholy to a crippling sadness that leaves your teen unable to interact or even get out of bed for days at a time. Before we can talk about how to help a teen with depression, we have to figure out what type of depression your teen is dealing with.
In general, psychologists divide teen depression into two major categories: clinical depression or non-clinical depression. Lets look at the main differences and then Ill show you how to help a teen with depression of both types.
The biggest factor that distinguishes clinical depression from regular teen depression is the inability to function normally in daily routines. If your teen is going through periods of immense sadness during which they are unable to complete simple activities like getting out of bed, grooming themselves, preparing and eating meals, doing homework, or attending school, then your teen is likely dealing with clinical teen depression.
On the other hand, if your teen is emotional, sad, tired, and down, but is able to complete their daily routines more or less successfully, then your teen likely has a case of non-clinical depression. The good thing about non-clinical teen depression is that it doesnt require drugs or counseling. The bad thing is that non-clinical teen depression can last for a very long time, even years in some cases.
Engage Them In Sports And Other Extracurricular Activities
You can buy an easy to set up basketball hoop or pack your bags and go hiking or camping, or any other popular sports or extracurricular activities that they would like. This will keep them actively and productively engaged and make them see that there is more to live for.
This helpful article on Sports gifts for teenage guys will help you with more sports items to buy for a teenager.
Causes Connections And What Parents Can Do To Help
Teen depression is on the rise, and a parents best strategy to help a child is to promote the development of key skills.
One of the most important aspects of healing and recovering, be it from an injury, depression or a broken heart, is the belief that change is possible. Researchers call this positive expectancy, and when we look at the success of therapy, it figures prominently.
In order to do the hard work of changing or healing, we have to believe that change is actually an option. Recently Ive been bumping into more and more information about depression and anxiety disorders that is saying the exact opposite of this.
In an effort to promote mental health awareness and prompt children, teens and adults to seek help for mental health issues, the messages that depression and anxiety disorders are diseases of the brain that just happen and more disturbinglyare how you are wired or are like diabetes and heart disease have been showing up again and again. Drug ads are major offenders, but not the only ones.
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Poor Performance At School
When a teenager starts to feel depressed, they couldnt be bothered about school anymore or their grades. It wont be long and their grades start to suffer. If your teenager has always done fairly well in school and suddenly their grades start to suffer, it is a silent cry for help. She/he might be going through depression, and it is affecting their grades.
The Statistics On Teenage Depression
Percentage of U.S. high school students who felt sad or hopeless in 2019, by gender and ethnicity. Source: Statista
Percentage of U.S. high school students who have seriously considered attempting suicide as of 2019, by ethnicity and sexual identity. Source: Statista
Out of 13,667 high school teenagers interviewed between August 2018 and June 2019, an average of 56.52% reported feeling sad and hopeless . And just in case you were in doubt, feelings of sadness and hopelessness are synonymous with feeling depressed. More than half of 13,667 students were feeling depressed. That is very unsettling and disturbing.
And it doesnt get any better. According to the second chart , out of the same number of students, an average of 37.6% of them reported having seriously considered attempting suicide.
And speaking of the particular subject of suicide, a survey seen below, showed that in 2017, teenage suicide amongst teenagers aged 15 to 19 stood at 11.8%. Another survey from the same put the figure at 22.9%. And as of 2019 , at least 10.2% of female teens were on antidepressants as a way of combating/dealing with depression. This chart on antidepressants also reveals that it would appear that more female teens try to treat depression, more than male teens.
Suicide rate in the U.S. among teenagers aged 15 to 19 from 2010 to 2017. Source: Statista
Percentage of teenagers in the United States taking antidepressants from 2015 to 2019, by gender. Source: Statista
Look For The Positive And Praise Your Teen Generously
If your teen is depressed, they will welcome praise when its offered. Depression often comes with feeling guilty, ashamed, sad, lonely, anxious, and confused. When you give your teen praise, you highlight a detail in their life and you help them shine a bit more. You also let your teen know that youre noticing, that you care, and that you love them. Teens who are depressed need you to highlight the positive because they are so frequently focused on the negative.
Causes Of Teen Depression
Biological factors, such as genes, can increase a teens risk of developing depression. However, environmental and social conditions also have a role to play. The following factors may trigger or exacerbate symptoms of depression in your teen:
Bullying.Being bullied by peers can add stress to a teens life and affect their self-esteem. This can, in turn, trigger feelings of intense helplessness and hopelessness.
Other mental and physical health conditions. Teen depression is associated with a number of other mental health problems, including eating disorders, self-injury, anxiety, ADHD, or a learning disorder. The struggles that accompany these conditions may lead a teen to feel unconfident and frustrated when it comes to academics and socializing. Similarly, physical disabilities or chronic illness can also play a role.
Past and present stressful experiences. Past trauma from violent or abusive situations can put teens at risk of depression as well as post-traumatic stress disorder . Recent events, such as the loss of a loved one, can also trigger a depressed mood.
Lack of social support. Teens who feel unsupported by family or peers are at risk of depression. For example, a teen may be struggling with their sexual identity in a hostile or unaccepting environment.
Depression and social media use
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Your Teen Daughters Depression
Wondering if your teen daughter is struggling with depression?
Teenage depression and suicidal thoughts are very serious. As a parent, you want to know how to recognize the symptoms and how to help.
In this Parents Guide licensed professional counselor September Trent will help you identify the symptoms of depression and give you practical direction on what to do. READ ON
In This Article
About the Author
is a licensed professional counselor specializing in eating disorders, self-harm, anxiety, and depression treatment. You can schedule an appointment with September for online counseling or in-person at our Springfield, Missouri counseling center.
More Tips On How To Help A Teen With Depression
In todays chaotic world, having family time isnt always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and importantbut so is spending time with your family.
Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.
There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance , meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.
Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.
Lets get started, shall we?
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Organization And Daily Routines
Fluctuating energy levels can make studying difficult. Help your child to notice when they are beginning to feel overwhelmed so they can take a short break before they lose all of their energy pushing themselves too hard.
Find ways to break assignments into smaller tasks and work periods to prevent overwhelm. Rather than have your child or teen work continuously for one full hour on homework, perhaps fifteen to twenty minutes right after arriving home from school, followed by a long break, and then work on homework again after dinner.
Make sure your child puts their homework in a specified location before they lose it, and forget to turn it in.
Creating a homework routine will get your child into the habit of putting their work in the same place, ready to return to school.
This reduces the need for your child to think and remember where they put their work, reducing the amount of thinking they have to do to get their work done.
Listen And Try To Understand Your Adolescent
When approaching your teenager for a conversation, your goal should be to just simply listen. Most of the time, your child wants you to listen rather than fix the situation. Try reflecting back what your daughter states. Think about what it would feel like to be in her shoes. Focus on trying to understand where she is coming from. Of course, you are the parent, so there are situations where you have to intervene for safety or consequences but make sure there are plenty of conversations that arent characterized by intervention. Instead, these should be marked by a relaxed mutual sharing and enjoyment of one another.
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Pay Attention To The Kind Of Pressure You Put On Your Teen
OBrien: Parental expectations can be a source of stress for a child who thinks their parents love depends on how they do in school, sports, or another activity. While its important to let children know their parents love them unconditionally, it is also important that parents support their teens in overcoming their fears. Gentle encouragement to try out situations that scare them can help teens learn how to manage their anxiety. They need these exposures to help them develop resilience in the face of fear or adversity.
Work With Your Child’s School
Get to know your childs teachers as early as possible. If you get to know your child’s teachers before they begin to struggle in school, you will already have established open communication with the school and your children’s teachers so that they know you.
With an open dialogue established, you and the school will be able to share observations about changes in your child’s behavior and school performance.
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How To Help Your Teen Once They Are Diagnosed
Honor your childs feelings. It is difficult to see your child sad and in pain. Your first response might be to try to cheer him or her up. Dont. Trying to make depressed children and teens happy makes them feel like the depression can be willed away. It is more helpful to listen. Acknowledge their feelings, and take them seriously.
We have open conversations with our kids. We try to hit on on the fact that depression is genetic its not your fault. If you needed glasses or if you had diabetes, wed be doing something. Weve had a lot of love, a lot of conversations, and a lot of patience with challenges we never thought wed have.
– Sheila, parent of four teenagers
Use encouraging statements rather than punishment.
Instead of yelling, Turn that television off! You havent done your homework yet! say When you finish your homework, you can watch television.
If your child constantly forgets to take his or her lunch money to school, dont say, You are so forgetful! You cant remember a simple thing like your lunch money! Instead, say something that focuses on the behavior, not your child, like I know it has been hard for you to remember your lunch money. What can we do to make sure it gets put in your book bag every morning?
Focus on consequences rather than punishment.
For example, if your child breaks a lamp during a temper tantrum, use a logical consequence rather than issuing an unrelated punishment .
Help your child build a feeling vocabulary.
Tip : Take Care Of Yourself
As a parent, you may find yourself focusing all your energy and attention on your depressed teen and neglecting your own needs and the needs of other family members. However, its extremely important that you continue to take care of yourself during this difficult time.
Above all, this means reaching out for much needed support. You cant do everything on your own so enlist the help of family and friends. Having your own support system in place will help you stay healthy and positive as you work to help your teen.
Depression support, suicide prevention help
Canada: Call Mood Disorders Society of Canada at 519-824-5565
India: Call the Vandrevala Foundation Helpline at 1860 2662 345 or 1800 2333 330
Suicide prevention help
In the U.S.: Call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
UK and Ireland: Call Samaritans UK at 116 123
Australia: Call Lifeline Australia at 13 11 14
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Signs Of Depression In Children
Symptoms of depression in children often include:
- sadness, or a low mood that doesn’t go away
- being irritable or grumpy all the time
- not showing interest in things they used to enjoy
- feeling tired and exhausted a lot of the time
Your child may also:
- have trouble sleeping or sleep more than usual
- not be able to concentrate
- interact less with friends and family
- be indecisive
- eat less than usual or overeat
- have big changes in weight
- seem unable to relax or be more lethargic than usual
- talk about feeling guilty or worthless
- feel empty or unable to feel emotions
- have thoughts about suicide or self-harming
- self-harm, for example, cutting their skin or taking an overdose
Some children have problems with anxiety as well as depression. Some also have physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomach aches.
Problems at school can be a sign of depression in children and teenagers. Problem behaviour, especially in boys, can also be a sign.
Older children who are depressed may misuse drugs or alcohol.
Why Is My Child Depressed
Things that increase the risk of depression in children include:
- family difficulties
- physical, emotional or sexual abuse
- a family history of depression or other mental health problems
Sometimes depression is triggered by 1 difficult event, such as parents separating, a bereavement or problems with school or other children.
Often it’s caused by a mixture of things. For example, your child may have a tendency to get depression and also experienced some difficult life events.
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Normalize Mental Health Issues
OBrien: Talking about anxiety and depression without judgment can go a long way toward counteracting the stigma around these issues. Parents may not realize how effective it is to talk openly about mental health. Even if they seem unresponsive at the time, children remember these conversations and know they can talk with their parents in the future if they need to.
Impact On School Performance
Below are some of the ways depression can impact kids at school:
Even if your child is only experiencing a few of the above symptoms, you can see how it would affect their school performance. Here are some tips and strategies for school success when your child has depression.
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Tip : Try Not To Isolate Yourselfit Makes Depression Worse
Depression causes many of us to withdraw into our shells. You may not feel like seeing anybody or doing anything and some days just getting out of bed in the morning can be difficult. But isolating yourself only makes depression worse. So even if its the last thing you want to do, try to force yourself to stay social. As you get out into the world and connect with others, youll likely find yourself starting to feel better.
Spend time face-to-face with friends who make you feel goodespecially those who are active, upbeat, and understanding. Avoid hanging out with those who abuse drugs or alcohol, get you into trouble, or make you feel judged or insecure.
Get involved in activities you enjoy . Getting involved in extracurricular activities seem like a daunting prospect when youre depressed, but youll feel better if you do. Choose something youve enjoyed in the past, whether it be a sport, an art, dance or music class, or an after-school club. You might not feel motivated at first, but as you start to participate again, your mood and enthusiasm will begin to lift.
Volunteer. Doing things for others is a powerful antidepressant and happiness booster. Volunteering for a cause you believe in can help you feel reconnected to others and the world, and give you the satisfaction of knowing youre making a difference.