Depression in teens has become extremely common. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, research indicates that roughly 3 million adolescents ranging from ages 12 to 17 have experienced at least one major depressive episode within the past year. Teen depression is a mental health problem that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities. It can affect how your teenager thinks, feels and behaves, and it can even cause emotional, functional, and physical problems.
Issues such as peer pressure, academic expectations, and changing bodies will inevitably bring ups and downs. Yet, for some teens, the lows are more than just a fleeting emotional state. Depression in teens isn’t a weakness or something that can be overcome with willpower and “tough love.” Serious cases can require long-term medical treatment and threaten dire consequences. However, for most teens that are beginning to chronically “feel low,” depressive symptoms can greatly improve with the help of weekly therapeutic counseling.
For parents attempting to approach the challenging and delicate task of raising a teen who struggles with depression, it can be helpful to keep these six guide rules in mind:
•Be Genuine – Engage in “real talk” with your teen, both about struggles and ambitions.
•Give Space – Teens need space to grow and gain independence from parents.
•Be Curious – Pay attention and show interest in your teen’s life and inner workings.
•Reserve Judgement – Don’t show anger first, display compassion and concern instead.
•Don’t Delay – If you think your teen might need help, talk with a counselor soon.
•Family Effort – Depression can’t be cured on an island. Familial support is a must.
If your teen is exhibiting signs of depression, contact the EAP for further assistance.
by Drew Thomas, MACP, CMHS, LMHC