Teenage depression can be difficult for adults to recognize and understand. Teenage years are routinely marked by moodiness, so it can be hard to distinguish normal teenage angst from the need for treatment of depression. For this reason, many cases of teenage depression go undiagnosed.
According to Family First Aid, one in eight adolescents struggle with depression. Some adolescents are more susceptible to teenage depression than others, perhaps because of family history of mental illness or outside factors. Treatment of depression is usually successful, but the consequences of ignoring teenage depression could be dire. Untreated teenage depression may lead to:
- Drug abuse
- Reckless behavior
Risk Factors for Teenage Depression
Depression is often genetic, so a family history of depression or other mood disorders is the biggest risk factor for teenage depression. Other risk factors include:
- Long-term illness or disability
- Problems at home or school
- Traumatic events, such as abuse, a break-up, divorcing parents or death of a loved one.
Depression also seems to be more prevalent among teen girls, although this may be because teenage boys are less likely to seek treatment for depression, such as calling a depression hotline.
Depression and Prevention
Teenage depression can’t always be prevented, but positive lifestyle choices may help keep depression at bay for an at-risk teen. Make sure your teen avoids drugs and alcohol, as both can trigger depression. Teenagers should have good adult role models and be friends with peers who have positive goals, such as attending college.
A well-balanced, nutritious diet, a regular exercise regimen and enough sleep can help your teen to maintain a healthy mental lifestyle. Teenagers experiencing tough life changes may wish to seek counseling or record their thoughts and feelings in a journal. Having a physical or creative outlet is also important, such as:
Treatment of Depression in Teens
As a parent, if you suspect that your child is suffering from teenage depression, the first thing to do is talk about it in a loving, supportive way. Tell your teen that you’ve noticed changes in his behavior and explain why you’re worried.
Open up the lines of communication. Listen to what your teen says, and acknowledge her pain and sadness without judging or lecturing. Suggest seeing a doctor together, calling a depression hotline or attending group therapy to work through those feelings.
Once your teen acknowledges that she needs help, there are several methods of treatment of depression. Many times, therapy works wonders. Other times, medication may be necessary. The teenage brain responds differently to antidepressants than the adult brain, so talk to your teen’s doctor about various medication options, and the risks and benefits of taking antidepressants.
Family First Aid Staff. (2004). What is teen depression? Retrieved April 28, 2010, from the Family First Aid website: http://www.familyfirstaid.org/depression.html.
Smith, M., Barston, S., Jaffe, J., Dumke, L.F., and Segal, J. (2007). Teen depression: A guide for parents and teachers. Retrieved April 28, 2010, from the Help Guide website: http://helpguide.org/mental/depression_teen.htm.
Teen Depression Staff. (2005). Teen depression prevention. Retrieved April 28, 2010, from the Teen Depression website: http://www.teendepression.org/articles8.html.