Depression in teenagers
Depression in teenagers is a growing problem. Teenagers face increasing pressure to achieve, perform and cope with a variety of stressors. There is academic pressure to achieve against an extremely competitive backdrop. Teenagers are also going through huge developmental and hormonal changes that can lead to insecurity, low self esteem and extreme self consciousness. Social anxiety in teenagers is on the rise and bullying can now follow teenagers into the previously relied-upon sanctity of the home. Nowhere seems safe anymore.
Symptoms of depression in teenagers
Lack of enthusiasm and/or motivation
Decreased pleasure in activities or hobbies they used to enjoy
Changes in appetite (eating more or less)
Changes in sleep patterns
Irritability or anger
Poor school performance
Is it depression or ‘usual’ growing pains?
Teenagers all go through tricky phases, such is life for all of us but when symptoms persist for a few months, it may be time to delve deeper.
What to do:
Don’t ignore the problem. Gently talk to your teenager and try to find out how they are feeling. It’s is also important to establish whether they have ever thought about suicide.Try not to lecture or judge, rather listen and encourage – be supportive even when at times this can be hard. As parents, we all have expectations of our children and when they fail to manifest, we can become irritated at their perceived lack of drive.
Encourage socialisation. Withdrawal and hiding away only adds to depression. Being involved in activities and getting out of the house, even for a brief walk can have a positive effect on mood and behaviour.
Seek professional help if your teenager seems unable to help themselves get out of their funk. CBT can be useful and this can also be supplemented with antidepressants after a careful assessment by a doctor.
There is always hope and with the right input, all teenagers have the capacity to improve.
Helpline: The Samaritans: CALL 116 123 (UK)