Depression is a serious mental illness that can affect both teens and adults. It manifests in a constant feeling of sadness, fatigue, and loss of interest in any activity. In teens, depressions can alter the way they feel about things and people and how they behave and interact with others. As such, it leads to mental and physical problems.
Even if this mental illness can affect both teens and their elders, the symptoms for the two age groups can differ. Peer pressure, school expectations, and their ever-changing bodies are the usual suspect behind teen ups and downs. For some, however, the lows are not just temporary but actual depression symptoms.
In the following text, we’ll try to demystify this issue by providing you with details that you can use to help yourself or someone you care for if they suffer from adolescent depression.
Understanding Teenage Depression
It’s no secret that teen years can be more than tough. We all go through it, and it’s normal to think that it just keeps getting worse. However, being depressed is a whole other animal that needs more recognition. Far more young people suffer from it than we allow ourselves to believe. Moreover, some estimates suggest that almost 20% of teens have a problem with depression, regardless of their background.
The sad thing about this is that most of them avoid treatment. Due to shame or lack of people to talk to, depressed teens allow this illness to control their lives. So, it’s important to realize what they’re going through and reach out to them as parents or friends. The reality is that depression is treatable, and there’s no reason not to try and make it go away. With guidance, lots of love, and complete support, anyone can make it through.
Triggers and Risk Factors That Affect Their Mind
From parents divorcing and abuse to neglect and disabilities, triggers for teen depression are many. And the worst thing about it is that teens are inexperienced to emotionally handle any of it. They tend to feel weak, leading to further problems when they eventually grow up and face similar circumstances regularly.
Nevertheless, younger people who don’t have these problems surrounding them can also face depression. Some people simply have a natural tendency towards this mental illness, which is genetic, making it even worse. But it doesn’t have to be predestined by family members’ history. Depression could come about even if no one else in your family had it.
The sad reality about this issue is that it ruins adult lives, let alone young and fragile ones. And aside from everyday events and family history, other triggers cause it too. These include medical conditions, societal issues, thought patterns that tend to be more negative than they should, and so on.
Additionally, teens are prone to alcohol and drug abuse, just like their elders. These actions can also be triggers for depression. Moreover, the risk factor of suffering from it is much higher in the case of substance abuse.
Visible Results and Signs You Should Pay Attention
To better understand what this illness is, it’s essential to pay attention to the following warning signs and symptoms of depression.
- Hopelessness and deep sadness
- Lack of energy
- Once loved activities becoming uninteresting and less pleasurable
- Frequent panic and anxiety attacks
- Lashing out in anger for no apparent reason
- Lack of organization and learning skills
- Pessimistic views about the future
- Feeling of worthlessness, guilt, ugliness, and stupidity for no reason
- Lack of appetite and subsequent weight loss
- Abnormal appetite and subsequent weight gain
- Restlessness due to too much/lack of sleep
- Inflicting injuries on yourself or having suicidal thoughts
Professional Help and Its Importance
Of all mental illnesses, depression is the most common one. Luckily, there is good news. You can treat depression with professional help. The only barricade on that path is understanding it on time and reaching out to others.
It’s essential to contact professional help as soon as possible. Moreover, you should opt for doctors who specialize in adolescent depression. And in case one therapist doesn’t suit you or your teenage family member, there’s no need to continue seeing them. You can change doctors without it being a problem.
Sometimes, doctors can be too formal for teens to feel like they’re making any progress. That’s something that differs from person to person and therapist to therapist. Therefore, the patient and doctor can’t form a quality relationship, which is key to overcoming this disease. In this case, feel free to ask around for recommendations.
Treating depression involves two types of therapies — medication or talk therapy. Of course, doctors can combine both for better results too. Antidepressants are meds used for this form of therapy, and they’re present to fix the chemical imbalance in the brain of the patient. They force the body to feel better by encouraging the brain to release more “happy hormones.” On the flip side, talk therapy is used to eliminate negative thought patterns, so teens can cope with stress factors better.
However, taking antidepressants isn’t something anyone should do without a proper medical examination. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health suggests that inadequate use of these drugs can induce suicidal thoughts in both teens and adults. This is why it’s essential to keep an eye out for people using them, no matter how okay they might seem.
What Families Can Do to Help Teenagers
Family and friends are important for many reasons, including helping someone when they’re having a bad time. This is especially true when it comes to depression. As such, families and friends can be more than helpful in assisting teens who suffer from mental health issues like depression.
The best thing you can do as a relative or friend is to provide support. You can do this by telling them that you acknowledge their feelings. Even if you don’t understand what they’re going through, you’re here and ready to help in any way possible. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t be intrusive. Instead, make them feel safe without adding additional pressure.
In case your teen family member decides to reach out for health care assistance, you should be fully supportive. You can do this by proposing to drive them to their therapy, encouraging them not to miss appointments, or simply congratulating them when you see the first signs of improvement. You’d be surprised how positive a smile and a kind word can be.