Being Available To Talk
Your young person might not want to talk when you approach them. While its not helpful to push them to open up, its important for them to know that when they feel up to it, youll be there for them.
Sometimes, talking to an adult friend can be easier than a parent, so if theres someone close to your child, consider having a chat to them about this and asking them to reach out. For example, your teen might feel more comfortable talking to an aunt, a sports coach, a teacher or their friends parent. Remember: if theyd rather talk to someone else, this doesnt mean that youve done anything wrong.
What To Do When Your Teen Is Depressed
Youve read over the above list and are pretty sure that your teen is depressed. Now what? Here are some things you can do to help your teen with depression.
1. Talk to Your Teen
Find out as much as possible by asking lots of questions. For example, Ive noticed that your schoolwork is suffering. You want to talk about it? or Im concerned that youve been spending a lot of time in your room and not going out with your friends? Is there something with which I can help?
2. Take Your Teen to a Mental Health Professional
You may or may not be on the right track suspecting your teen is depressed. Like I mentioned, sometimes, its difficult to decipher your teens mood. Thats why a professionaltherapist, psychiatrist, or doctorcan either confirm or allay your suspicions and either point you in the right direction to get your child help or tell you to keep an eye on things and give it a little more time.
3. Explain Your Reasons for Concern.
You may want to express your concerns to your teen and the reasons why youre having them. For instance, you might say, I am concerned that you might be depressed. Heres why Then, list the reasons. Furthermore, you can say, If you are feeling depressed, I just want you to know that theres help out there.
Putting words to what your teen is feeling will validate their experience. Often, having words to our experiences can be a great relief.
4. Consider Medications
6. Lifestyle Adjustments
Be your childs advocate!
Why Is My Child Unmotivated
Although it is typical for kids to be unmotivated about things they dont like, it is not normal for them to be unmotivated to do anything. There are many reasons why a child is completely not motivated, but lazy is usually NOT one of them.
Science tells us that a lack of motivation has something to do with insufficient impact of neurotransmitters called dopamine1.
Things that can lower the effectiveness of the dopamine system include:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 3
- Traumas such as abuse, natural disasters, violence and death of a loved one4.
- Mental disorders such as depression5,6
- Substance addiction7
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Helping Kids With Depression Get Treatment
Some teens will want to go to therapy when you ask them and some wont. For those who are resistant, know that they arent going to suddenly open up to the idea of therapy quickly, but you can help guide them towards treatment by opening the door and then waiting patiently for them to walk through it.
Try saying, I know youre having a hard time, and I have some ideas of things that could help. If youd like to talk with me about them, let me know. Im here for you. Its also a good idea to ask them if they has any suggestions on how you might be able to help. You might be surprised with what they have to say.
Be aware that your teen might tell you to back off. Thats fine its their way albeit a slightly irritable one of telling you that they need space. Its normal for teenagers to want independence, and its important for you to respect that. You can respond by saying, Ill give you more space, but know that Im here for you if you ever want to talk or hear my suggestions.
If they do come to you wanting help, be prepared. Do your research. Find two or three therapists they can interview and tell them that they can choose the one that they feel most comfortable with, and think will help the most. Finding a therapist who is a good fit is extremely important, and making the choice theirs will help them feel ownership over their own treatment, which is extremely important to teens and sets the stage for effective therapy.
How To Motivate A Teenager With Depression
Does your teenager seem unmotivated, listless or downright lazy? Many teens do. There is a high incidence of motivational difficulties among adolescents and it can show up as listlessness, fatigue, inactivity, poor follow-through, non-compliance, academic underperformance and social withdrawal. But while plain old laziness may appear to be the culprit, thats an unlikely explanation. All kids want to do well. Most would love to get straight As, please their parents, impress their peers, and excel at music or sports or whatever interests they may have.
But adolescence is a complicated and sensitive time and many teens find that their motivation to pursue excellenceor even an acceptable level of mediocrityis severely compromised by physical, emotional, social or neurological obstacles that they may little understand. Often what appears to laziness is really avoidant behaviora coping response based on the pain associated with trying and failing repeatedly despite their best efforts. Over time, this learned helplessness is labeled as laziness by teachers and parents, a label that is much easier to bear than labels the child may suspect are more accurate, such as stupid or incapable.
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Do You Have A Depressed Teen
Guest Post by Amanda Patterson:
Lets face it, teenagers get moody and depressed. Its a part of their biological makeup. As hormones are racing through their bodies, their emotions jump on that same rollercoaster.
The parents who come into my office are often looking for answers so Ive decided to write this blogpost for all the parents out there who are worried about their depressed teenager.
Below Ive outlined ten things you can do when you suspect your teen is depressed:
1. Talk to them about it
Its important to talk to your teenager about their depression and how they feel. They may not open up to you about it but its key to let them know you are there for them to talk about whatever is going on in their lives, not just their depression.
2. Empathize with them
If youve never experienced depression for yourself, it might be hard for you to put yourself in your teens shoes. You may look at them and think how lucky they are to have opportunities you never had.
Depression is not about whether they have the latest shoes or the privileges they are afforded in life. Depression is related to how they see themselves and the world. Work on understanding your teens feelings and it will help you to better understand them.
3. Dont try to fix their problems
4. Give them resources to use
5. Monitor their symptoms
6. Have them get a physical from their doctor
8. Educate yourself
Q What About Kids Who Need Help Getting Started Would You Recommend Giving Them Help At Ithe Beginning Of A Project
I think thats fine. What I would want to see, though, is my child asking for my helpnot me shoving it upon him.
I think its important to talk to kids about how they can creatively ask for help. Your child could run his project by a friend whos doing one of his own. He could go on the internet and look for ideas. He could ask you what you think about his project and how hes planning to go about doing it.
I want to see kids learning things here, like how to ask for help and use the resources that they have. I have no problem with a parent helping, but I think its important for your child to learn how to ask for that help.
And I would say:
I have no problem helping you out. Im not going to do it for you, but let me know specifically what you would like help on.
This is how you can relieve pressure without doing it for your child. So making a plan, reading it over, giving feedback, critiquing their workall are totally fine in my opinion.
Ive met too many 17 year-olds who are still being babied. They need to get up off the couch and do it themselves. If they dont, then theyre 19 and they go to college and they wonder why things are falling apart.
So we have to be careful as parents. I think you have to ask yourself, Am I helping my kid to actually help my kid or am I helping my kid for my own ego?
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Drug Or Alcohol Abuse
Many teens experiment with alcohol or drugs at some point. This is due to peer pressure, curiosity, or the desire to fit in or look cool. But some teens turn to substances for a much more serious reason. They use them as a means of escape a way to self-medicate painful symptoms of depression or other mental health disorders. If your teen is abusing alcohol or drugs , you need to address this with them. An evaluation by a mental health professional can help determine if depression or another disorder is part of the problem, and suggest the best treatment approach.
Work With Your Childs Treatment Team
If you suspect your child has depression, speak to his pediatrician or a mental health professional. Depression is treatable, but without appropriate intervention, it may get worse. Treatment may include therapy, parent training, or medication.
Work with treatment providers to learn about the steps you can take to best support your childs mental health. Inquire about the specific strategies you should use to address behavior problems like non-compliance and disrespect.
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You Don’t Need To Wait For Motivation To Actually Do Something
The belief that I have to feel motivated first in order to get something done is one of the myths that underlie depression. You don’t have to feel like doing something in order to do it. You simply need to choose to do it and then actually do it. For example, I exercise almost every morning for an hour before I see patients or do any writing. I cannot say that I feel highly motivated to exercise. And I often dont feel motivated to write. But I have committed myself to that habit because I think it’s a healthful habit and I have committed to doing the exercise even if I don’t feel like doing iteven if I have no motivation. In fact, every day that you go to work you probably are doing things that you’re not particularly motivated to do, but you’re committed to being successful in your job. This is a key element. Commit to action and values rather than waiting for the motivation to show up.
Q So What Should You Say If Your Child Says That They Hate Math Or Theyre Not Good At Chemistry How Do You Motivate Them Then
I think its okay for your kid to say, I hate history. Im not good at this. Those are fine things to express. We all have subjects that we gravitate towards a little more. Thats not what you need to focus on. Instead, tell him:
I understand that you dont like it, but how can you succeed at this?
Maybe that means your child doesnt make an A in history, but he needs to at least do his best so he can graduate.
Again, to them, its a valid feeling when they say, Im not good at this. This is hard. I hate history. In my opinion, a good response from you is:
I have no problem with you hating history. But I do have a problem with you quitting tonight.
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Q What If You See Your Child Starting To Slack Off A Little On A Project And You Start To Worry That Hes Not Going To Finish On Time Is There Anything You Should Step In And Do At That Point
I think its best to let teens figure it out for themselves unless theres a fire. As a parent, you obviously need to put out fires. But if its just a short-term inconvenience, I believe they need to figure it out for themselves.
If your child doesnt hand in his project on time and gets a bad grade, thats a natural consequence. Let it happen.
Certainly, there should be guidelines and rules at home around expectations and responsibilities. But if your child doesnt complete his work, he needs to experience the consequences of that lack of follow-through himself.
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.
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Do Not Be Grumpy And Complaining
When teenagers dont do well in academics they typically start slipping in other areas of their lives as well. They start keeping their rooms untidy, they neglect their personal hygiene like taking bath and brushing etc. They dress untidily in crushed clothes and so on. This can make you more and more irritated and you may look at your child in disgust whenever she/he is around you and start pointing out everything that is wrong with your child at all times of the day.
Do not do this. It can be extremely demotivating.
This is the time to support your child and find out why your child is behaving like this with expert help instead of constantly criticizing her/him. First help your teen improve in academics. That will motivate her/him to do everything else well as well.
Medication Comes With Risks
Antidepressants were designed and tested on adults, so their impact on young, developing brains is not yet fully understood. Some researchers are concerned that exposure to drugs such as Prozac may interfere with normal brain developmentparticularly the way the brain manages stress and regulates emotion.
Antidepressants also come with risks and side effects of their own, including a number of safety concerns specific to children and young adults. They are also known to increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in some teenagers and young adults. Teens with bipolar disorder, a family history of bipolar disorder, or a history of previous suicide attempts are particularly vulnerable.
The risk of suicide is highest during the first two months of antidepressant treatment. Teenagers on antidepressants should be closely monitored for any sign that the depression is getting worse.
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Do Not Try To Control
If you try to control your teenager you will surely end up with rebellion.
Do not threaten your teenager with consequences. Do not misuse your power as a parent.
As the logical thinking part of the brain grows in your teen reason with your teen. Show your child what may happen if she/he does not study and what can happen if she/he does study.
Allow your teen to decide. Be a facilitator and help your teen achieve what she/he wants to achieve. Do not impose your will upon your teenager otherwise your teenager will get frustrated and will get demotivated.
How Is Teen Depression Diagnosed
There aren’t any specific medical tests that can detect depression. Health care professionals determine if a teen has depression by conducting interviews and psychological tests with the teen and their family members, teachers, and peers.
The severity of the teen depression and the risk of suicide are determined based on the assessment of these interviews. Treatment recommendations are also made based on the data collected from the interviews.
The doctor will also look for signs of potentially co-existing psychiatric disorders such as anxiety or substance abuse or screen for complex forms of depression such as bipolar disorder or psychosis. The doctor will also assess the teen for risks of suicide or homicide. Incidences of attempted suicide and self-mutilation is higher in females than males while completed suicide is higher in males. One of the most vulnerable groups for completed suicide is the 18-24 age group.
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