Teenagers are known for their moody natures. Adolescence brings with it so many changes for a child embarking on the journey to adulthood – hormones, academic pressures, physical developments, questions about their identity and place in the world, and social pressures, particularly among peers. But mental health specialists have found that there is a point when teen moodiness is more than what it seems, and that depression in youth is a real problem.
How to Identify Depression in Teenagers
Being subjected to bad moods and periods of rebelliousness is a norm for parents of teenagers. However, there are signs and symptoms that parents can look out for that will help them identify depression in their children, so that early intervention can take place. Depression is an all- encompassing illness, where emotions like sadness, anger, and despair are so overwhelming it becomes difficult to function normally in society. What a parent is likely to see when teenager is depressed, includes lethargy, school grades going down, substance abuse, addiction to social media/internet, low self-esteem, violence, and behaviour that poses a threat to themselves and others. A depressed teen might talk often of running away, or romanticise suicidal thoughts, and they will show a marked change in their eating and sleeping patterns as well.
How You can Help
Often a parent will feel inadequate when it comes to helping their depressed child, most times feeling rather overwhelmed themselves. But there are ways in which your support as a parent can make a huge difference. In Catherine Radloff’s article about supporting a depressed teenager, she outlines various ways in which parents can have a positive influence in their child’s struggle with depression, and several studies have shown that the support from family in properly managing mental illness can greatly reduce the depth of depressive episodes, as well as the frequency with which they occur. Below are a few ways parents can help their depressed teenager:
Seek Professional Help
Don’t put off contacting a mental health professional if you think your teen may be suffering from depression. These specialists are trained to diagnose the condition no matter the age of the patient, and come with expert knowledge that will serve as a much-needed support for parents who have to help their child through this challenging time.
Depressed teens will seek solitude, but too much time spent alone with their own dark thoughts can be very damaging. Encourage social interaction on a personal level – social media doesn’t count – and this will help eradicate feelings of isolation.
Get Them Moving
Regular physical activity has been proven to alleviate symptoms of depression, and by adopting a good exercise regime, your teen will be taking the right steps to managing their condition in a healthy way.
Monitor all Medication
If your child is under the care of a specialist in mental health and their condition calls for it, they will be prescribed anti-depressants to help them manage their condition. It’s important for parents to make sure the child takes the medication on time and in the correct doses.
Listening goes a Long Way
Teenagers with depression often feel isolated and misunderstood. These feelings cause them to withdraw from people, and even lead to very dark thoughts about leaving this world altogether. It’s vital that parents keep open line of communication with their child. Assure them that it’s safe to share their feelings, and also that you are willing to listen without judgement. Never dismiss what they think and how they feel, as this could be detrimental to their state of mind.
Routine & Diet
Depression and anxiety often go hand-in- hand, and a stable, predictable routine is one way of reducing symptoms of anxiety. For instance, your child may have trouble sleeping, but will find comfort in a fixed bed time. Loss of appetite is common in depressed teens, but although they might not be eating well, ensure that they have a healthy selection of foods available. Balanced nutrition plays a key role in keeping the mind and body feeling their best.
ZwavelStream Clinic is a private psychiatric institution that provides patients with a tranquil space to achieve mental wellness. Our team of mental health specialists bring decades of experience and skills to their approach, prioritising the recovery and treatment of each patient as an individual. If you suspect that you or someone you know might be having mental health issues, feel free to do our online self-diagnosis questionnaire to find out if psychiatric intervention is necessary. All results will be treated with the utmost confidentiality. Alternatively, you can visit our website to find out more about what we offer, and how we can help you or your loved one.