Helping teens cope with depression
Out of 8 people, one person suffers from depression without knowing it. As parents, we need to know what causes depression, what its effects are and how to help our teens get over it when they are depressed. This article hopes to provide insights on teen depression.
Depression can strike anyone.
A friend, who is a parent, observed that her 14-year old daughter was acting strange for the past weeks. She had been spending most of her time inside her room. She looked sad and tired. She didn't join the family for meals. She seemed not to be studying anymore. She wasn't going out with her friends but instead, seemed to be holing up. So, out of concern, my friend asked her if there was anything wrong and she irritably replied, "No!"
This really bothered my friend.
My friend’s daughter manifests the physical signs and symptoms of depression and she is not alone. Out of 8 people, one person suffers from depression without knowing it. As parents, we need to know what causes depression, what its effects are and how to help our teens get over it when they are depressed. This article hopes to provide insights to parents on teen depression.
What causes depression?
There is really no exact cause of depression but there are factors that contribute to depression. These factors include health conditions, circumstances, and environment.
Health conditions can likely be a cause for a teenager’s depression. Hypothyroidism is known to cause depression to some individuals. Sickness or an incurable illness can also lead a teen to become depressed.
The circumstances or the events that happen to a person can also be one cause of depression. These events may be the death of a loved-one, divorce or separation of parents, moving to a new environment, or failure in an endeavor.
A stressful environment at home or in school can also be a reason for teenagers to have depression. Disharmony, poverty or problems within the family or pressures from school work or friends might be too much for a teen to handle.
What are the effects of depression?
There are a number of effects if depression is left undetected and untreated. Depression can lead to self harming, violence and even suicide.
What should parents do?
Understand the stage your teen is going through. The adolescence stage is a turbulent stage for any teenager. Your teen may be struggling through these times and you should understand what he or she is experiencing.
Observe your child’s behavior. Discern signs and symptoms of depression manifested by your teen. If you sense something unusual in your child’s behavior, verify this by asking your teen’s friends or teachers.
Communicate with your child. Talk to your teen and listen to him or her so you will be able to find out more about his or her feelings. Assure your child that you are there to offer support. If your child denies that he or she is depressed, just be gentle. Listen without being judgmental. Listen with your eyes, your ears and your heart. Show that you understand him/ her and you empathize with him/ her. You should be gentle to let your teen realize that he or she is in a state of depression. Though it is quite difficult for a person to be convinced that he or she is depressed, you need to persevere.
Consult a doctor or a specialist. If talking to your child doesn’t work, seek professional help. Go to a doctor, a psychologist or a psychiatrist who can help you and your teen diagnose depression. But first make sure you talk to your child before doing this so he or she is prepared and will cooperate with the doctor or specialist.
Consider treatment options. Discuss with the doctor or specialist the possibilities of treating depression. This could involve 'talk' therapy, group or family therapy and medication.
Support your teen through treatment. Be understanding and patient. If the child is depressed, he needs someone to rely on, to talk to, to listen to him and to have emphatic understanding for him or her during this difficult situation. Encourage your child to stay active, and to socialize with others. Be aware of the treatment he or she has to undergo and most of all learn more about depression.
As you help your child through depression, don’t forget to take of yourself and the other family members. Don’t just focus all of your time and energy to your depressed teen. It is also recommended that you open to other family members and ask help from them.
Read: Suicidal tendencies in kids: What are they and how can you help?
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