Teens and Adolescents Struggling with Depression
Having periods of sadness, sleepiness, or grumpiness is normal for teens. However, when these symptoms become pervasive and last for an extended period of time, it may be a sign of something more serious going on, such as teen depression. Unfortunately, over 16 million people in the U.S. have an episode of major depression each year. For teens, one in five will develop depression before they turn 25, and 13.3% of kids ages 12–17 will have at least one major depressive episode.
Unfortunately, 60% of teens do not receive treatment. This is a major problem in the U.S., as 7.4% of teens grades 9–12 have attempted suicide in the past year. These statistics are taken from research from a few years ago, so considering the current social climate, it’s fairly safe to say that these numbers are actually much higher today.
The good news is that you’ve landed on this page for a reason and will not be contributing to the 60% of teens whose symptoms go untreated, which can lead to greater issues later on in life.
What is Depression?
Depression is a serious mental health condition that is prevalent among over 7% of the U.S. population and rising each year. The onset of depression can occur for any number of reasons. Signs and symptoms of teen depression include:
- Persistent sadness
- Low energy or fatigue
- Moodiness or irritability
- Difficulty concentrating
- A sudden decline in academic and/or extracurricular performance
- Feelings of hopelessness and emptiness, lack of hope for the future
- A loss in interest in things once enjoyed, such as hobbies, after school activities, etc.
- Social withdrawal from family and friends
- A lack of motivation
- Appetite changes, including a lack of appetite and an increased appetite beyond normal teenage hunger
- Changes to sleeping habits, such as consistently sleeping too much or too little
- Self-medication from drugs or alcohol
- Suicidal thoughts or tendencies
- Fits of anger or aggression that are out of proportion to the situation at hand
If your adolescent or teen is showing any of the above symptoms, it’s important to seek some help. Please give us a call at Idaho Youth Ranch and we will schedule you for a personal evaluation to determine the best course of action for your teen.
How Did My Teen Get Depressed? Why Is This Happening?
There are numerous reasons why teens become depressed, and they vary from one individual to the next. Sometimes it can be circumstantially onset, such as feeling upset about a loss or hardship, but when the symptoms persist they can turn into major depression. Other times depression is a symptom of stress or trauma. There are also physical conditions that can contribute to symptoms of depression, such as stress responses that occur when there is pressure on the central nervous system or a teen is taking various medications.
A medical evaluation can help determine whether your teen’s depression symptoms are related to a physical or a mental health issue. Neurotransmitters, the chemicals in our brains that are responsible for our moods, can become imbalanced due to drug use, poor diet, lack of exercise, and changes in our sleep patterns; we also have more of these chemicals in our stomachs than we do in our brains, so this makes a healthy diet especially important for combating these symptoms.
When such an imbalance occurs, the chemicals that contribute to feeling happy are depleted, leaving us feeling depressed. Some people have a genetic predisposition that makes them more susceptible, as does a low level of resiliency.
Emotional struggles, life changes, and traumatic events can also lead to a depressed mood. When depression persists over an extended period of time and interferes with your teen’s ability to function in life, then it’s definitely time to address the issue and seek treatment. There are a variety of treatment options available for depressed teens that are evidence-based and proven to be effective. If you’re interested in learning more about the treatment options available for your teen, give us a call to schedule an evaluation.
Depression in Teen Girls
Unfortunately, girls are nearly four times more likely to develop depression than males. In 2017, 20% of females reported having an episode of depression; for males, it was 6.8%.
This difference in prevalence could be caused by a number of factors, one of which is that it tends to be more difficult for males to admit to having depression, as it may be seen as a sign of weakness. However, a number of other factors can also contribute to this trend.
In today’s society, girls are bombarded by images that represent standards of beauty that are impossible to achieve naturally. Males are bombarded with similar images, which can influence the ways in which they treat females in general, and popular music can be hostile and disrespectful toward females.
Teen girls also face many threats in society today. One in four girls will become a victim of sexual abuse, and sex trafficking and date rape are added threats. As a whole, women are not treated equally in the workplace and by society in general.
Even though females represent over half of the world’s population, they are considered a minority. This can leave women feeling down and pressured to live up to the body image ideals of mainstream media, all while planning for college, a future career, and deciding whether to get married and raise a family. It’s exhausting just thinking about all of the pressures out teen girls face, now and in the future.
While self-esteem issues are common in teen girls, if your daughter or teen is struggling with severe body image issues, bullying, abuse, trauma, self-medicating, or self-harming, then it’s important to address these issues and seek help as soon as possible. When left untreated, these symptoms can lead to more severe issues later on in life.
If you're concerned that your teen girl may be experiencing symptoms of depression, give us a call at Idaho Youth Ranch. Our dedicated team of professionals is here to help your daughter or teen with a treatment plan designed specifically for her unique situation and set of symptoms and struggles.
Depression in Teen Boys
Even though depression is more common in females, with 20% of females and 6.8% of males reporting a major depressive episode in 2017, this is still a serious issue for teen boys that is rising in prevalence every year.
Just as females have a considerable amount of pressures and struggles placed upon them by society, so do males. Men are typically conditioned to bottle up their emotions and refrain from crying or showing any signs of “weakness.” This can make opening up difficult, and so when there is trauma, conflict in the home, or abuse going on, males are more likely to shut down and refrain from disclosing or reaching out for help. They can be more inclined to try to be “strong” and deal with everything life throws at them on their own, which is impossible for any one single person to do all the time.
When it comes to abuse, males are more likely to experience severe physical abuse, and they are less likely to report any instances of sexual abuse.
When teen boys are depressed, they are more likely to express their feelings behaviorally by acting out with aggression, anger, alcohol or drug abuse, and/or engaging in risky behaviors.
Males are also more likely to succeed when attempting suicide, which is oftentimes caused by depression, as they tend to choose more violent means.
While aggressive behavior, alcohol use, and risky behaviors are stereotypically linked to normal male behavior, these are signs that should never be ignored in your teen as they could in fact be signs of a more serious issue. If you are concerned about the behavior of your teen boy, it’s important to seek help before these signs and behaviors turn into more serious issues. Please contact us at Idaho Youth Ranch and our dedicated team of professionals will set you up with an evaluation to help form a unique treatment plan design for your teen based on his unique needs and struggles. Needing therapy or intervention to help us overcome life’s struggles is not a sign of weakness; rather, it’s a sign of strength and of love, whether for oneself or the person who is struggling.
Helping Teens with Depression
Whenever it’s suspected that a teen is suffering with depression, it’s important to have an examination done to determine a diagnosis. A physical exam, lab tests, and a psychological evaluation will typically be conducted to ensure there is nothing else contributing to the symptoms. There are a variety of medical conditions, as well as other psychological disorders, that can present with symptoms of depression.
Once a diagnosis has been determined, the course of treatment thereafter will depend on the symptoms of the individual. For those with severe cases of depression where self-harm or suicidal tendencies exist, inpatient care may be necessary until those symptoms improve.
Typically, psychotherapy is needed to help manage and ease the symptoms of depression, and this is often paired with antidepressant medication. There are a variety of types of therapy that are effective in treating depression, and typically a combination of therapeutic approaches may be used per each individual depending on their unique needs.
A majority of therapeutic approaches involve:
- Education about depression and its possible causes
- Learning to identify any unhealthy behavioral and/or thought patterns
- Evaluating and exploring personal relationships and experiences
- Learning new, healthy ways to cope with stress, heartache, anger, etc.
- Setting attainable goals for one’s personal growth and life
- Problem-solving skills
- Helping to ease any feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and anger
- Learning how to adjust to life changes
- Finding a sense of purpose, happiness, and self-control
If there is any doubt in your mind about the mental health of your teen, it’s important to reach out and schedule an evaluation to determine whether there is a serious medical or mental issue going on. If your teen is exhibiting symptoms of depression, contact us today to schedule an evaluation.
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How to Help Your Teen
When a teen is diagnosed with depression, it can be a difficult pill for parents to swallow. Parents often wonder if it’s because of something they did, or failed to do, and it can be confusing and cause them to feel powerless at times. It’s important for you to know that depression can arise from any number of situations and circumstances, and as parents there are some things that you can do to help your teen overcome depression and work toward healing, learning to enjoy life again, and experiencing personal growth.
Aside from being aware of the signs and symptoms of depression, it’s important to exercise good communication skills with your teen. When doing so, be sure to listen. It is impossible to know exactly how your teen is feeling or what he/she is going through. After surrendering to the notion that you are naïve in this aspect, make an effort to understand what your teen is going through by listening and being there for emotional support. Try to understand what it is like to be a teen in this time and what your teen enjoys doing, watching, listening to, etc. By making an attempt to understand your teen’s culture, you are showing that you care.
In addition to showing that you care, communicating, and listening, it’s important to be available to connect with your teen, even if it's during an inconvenient time. Showing consistent support will help your teen feel safe and more grounded. Let them know that it’s okay to feel sad or disappointed about things and that it’s healthy to have emotions, all while avoiding criticism or harsh remarks. It’s also important to connect with an expert, such as your teen’s therapist; be sure to understand the symptoms and signs of depression and ensure your teen sticks to his or her treatment plan.
Encouraging your teen to adopt healthy habits is going to go a long way. Eating a healthy diet; engaging in exercise or physical activities; making and nurturing positive relationships; getting a consistent, healthy amount of sleep each night; getting enough sun or vitamin D; and adopting healthy coping skills are wonderful ways to support your teen through healing and recovery. It’s also helpful to engage in physical activities with your teen such as going on walks or hikes, or anything that you enjoy doing as a family.
Some additional positive things to encourage your teen to do regularly include:
- Having a structured daily routine
- Asking for help when in need
- Setting realistic goals and expectations
- Writing in a journal
- Connecting with friends, family, and peers when feeling down
- Staying active and healthy
Learning as much as you can about depression is another way you can best help your teen. You may want to encourage your teen to attend a support group for teens with depression, and you may also benefit from attending one for family members as well.
It’s best to encourage your teen to abstain from drugs or alcohol, as this could interfere with the recovery process, and to remove any objects that have been or could be used for self-harm. Should the depression symptoms worsen, which is common when first starting treatment, it’s important to be aware of the warning signs of suicide, which include:
- Social withdrawal
- Suicidal art or writings
- A personality shift
- Risky behavior
- Giving personal belongings away
- Threatening to hurt oneself
Should your teen exhibit any of the above symptoms, it’s important to seek help immediately. If your teen threatens to hurt him/herself, call 911. Speaking out about your teen when they need it the most can save his or her life.
If you suspect your teen may be struggling with depression and you’d like to learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatment options, please contact us at Idaho Youth Ranch. We offer a variety of treatment options to help your teen overcome depression and live a healthy life.
- Understanding Trauma
- Anxiety in Teens
- Understanding Self-Harm
- Coping Skills for Self-Harm
- 10 Things Your Kids Need to Hear You Say
- What to Know About Suicide in Idaho
- Social, Relational Competence
- 5 Reasons Taking Care of Yourself Makes You a Better Parent
- Anger in Teens
- How Counseling Can Help Your Child
How Idaho Youth Ranch Can Help Your Teen
When your teen is struggling with depression, there are a number of root causes that can be contributing to the symptoms. We specialize in treating not only the symptoms of depression, but the cause of the depression at its core. It can develop as a symptom of trauma, from an unhealthy lifestyle, a chemical imbalance, or a variety of medical conditions.
At Idaho Youth Ranch, we provide a network of professional support paired with a variety of treatment options to fit your teen’s unique needs. We work with teens in our inpatient setting, outpatient meetings, family therapy sessions, individual sessions, and equine therapy sessions.
If your teen is suffering with depression, it’s important to seek help right away. Please contact us now to set up an evaluation so we can form a custom treatment plan catered to your teen’s needs.