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Teenage depression

Depression in theUK is worse than we think
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Teen Depression: How To Handle Your Troubled Teen

Many of us have experienced being a teenager. We’re often moody, irrational, a little bit reckless and prone to mood-swings, then once we grow out of it we warn others’ that all teenagers will be vulnerable to these behaviorisms sometimes. The line between typical teenage behaviour and mental health issues becomes blurred and difficult to recognize, but there is a line and it is crucial that we become more aware of it.

Teenage depression differs from adult depression in some ways, but is it just as real and just as serious. Depression can lead to self-loathing, alcohol and drug abuse, self-injury and many other harmful symptoms, that can culminate in suicide.

Depression is manageable and, in most cases, treatable but it is difficult to recognize. It is crucial that you do not shun away from your teen in their time of need; you need to be supportive and communicate.

Signs & Symptoms

Although teenagers are arguably put under too much pressure at a young age – socially, academically, personally – many of them can mange and cope with the strain as they develop. However, if the following symptoms are apparent for an extended period of time and they are severe, your teenager may be suffering from depression:

  • Sadness and hopelessness.
  • Irritability, anger and/or hostility.
  • Tearfulness, crying often.
  • Withdrawal from social situations.
  • Loss of interest in activities.
  • Changes in sleeping/ eating habits.
  • Restlessness and agitation.
  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation.
  • Fatigue and a lack of energy.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Thoughts of self-harm/ death/ suicide.

Differences Between Teenage and Adult Depression

teenage depressionTeenagers with depression will often react with irritability and anger, rather than what those without depression view as sadness. They also suffer from medically unexplainable aches and pains such as headaches or stomach aches. Where adults tend to completely withdraw from everyone, many teenagers will keep some communication open with those around them. Lastly, teenagers are extremely sensitive to criticism, depression can cause people to feel worthless and so teenagers suffering with the illness can react particularly badly to failure, rejection and criticism.

The Effects of Depression

There are some crucial life events that occur during our teenage years, however depression makes it incredibly difficult to deal with them. If your teenager is having these problems, they may depression:

  • Problems at school/ college.
  • Running away.
  • Drug/ alcohol abuse.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Internet addiction (as a form of escapism).
  • Reckless behaviour
  • Violence

Depression may also be a symptom of and is associated with many other mental health issues such as eating disorders or self-injury.

Suicide Signs and Warnings

If your teenager is partaking in one or more of the following behaviorisms, it may be a sign that they are suicidal:

  • They talk or joke about suicide and say things like “I’d be better off dead”.
  • Writing about death/ suicide.
  • Engaging in reckless behaviour.
  • Saying goodbye as though is the final time you will see them.
  • Seeking out methods to kill themselves, such as pills or looking at websites that ‘help’ offer methods of suicide.

Encouraging A Teen To Communicate

Even if your child is not depressed, if any of the symptoms or signs above are present it’s crucial you attempt to open up communication. This may be difficult as depression often evokes a sense of shame, misunderstanding, stigma, and isolation.

You must offer your support – fully and unconditionally – be patient, kind, validating and listen. Do not criticize, patronize, pressurize or give unsolicited advice. Depression is real, if you show any sign that you do not believe or support your child it will make it harder for them to deal with.

Seeking Treatment

If you believe your child may have depression, and preferably if you have spoken together about it, it’s best to seek treatment straight away. Make an appointment to see you doctor, make sure you are specific and mention any other family members with a history of depression or other mental health issues. The doctor may then conduct a physical examination and take blood. Your teenager will most probably be referred to a mental health support unit to see an assessment nurse at some point in the close future. This assessment can be very worrying for a teen with depression, but they must remember to be honest and sincere about their feelings to insure they receive the help they need.

After this assessment, they will decide whether your child needs to see a councilor, a psychiatrist or psychotherapist. You can join these meetings if you wish to and if your child is comfortable with it. If they would rather talk about their problems without your company, do not take it personally.

Medication

Your child may also be offered medication, although doctors do not necessary suggest this, particularly for teenagers. It is important that you don’t rely solely on medication, so encourage your child to also see the mental health support team they have been referred to. Doctors may offer your child a smaller amount of tablets on their first prescription, such as 14 pills instead of the usual 28 – or you can request this – if it’s possible your child may overdose.

If your child is offered meds it is important you are aware of the risks. Although they may relieve symptoms, due to their developing brains teenagers are more likely to have a negative reaction.

Antidepressants can actually make suicidal thoughts more severe so it is crucial you monitor your teenager, particularly within the first two months. Your child will have to return for appointments with their doctor every couple of weeks when they first begin taking antidepressants so you can discuss progress or concerns.

Supporting Your Child Whilst They Are In Treatment

The health system will often do their most to help your child through their treatment, but it is important you continue to help as well:

  • Be understanding.
  • Encourage physical activities.
  • Encourage socializing.
  • Be involved (at the level at which your child is comfortable).
  • Learn about depression.

Taking Care Of Yourself

Although your child is suffering, you must remember to take care of yourself as well. Reach out for your own support from friends or family so that you are not struggling alone. Do not blame yourself or others for the predicament your child is in as no one is necessarily responsible, it is nobodies’ fault.

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About Siobhan Harmer

About Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan Harmer is an English Freelance writer who drinks far too much coffee!!

Website: Siobhan Harmer

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