Deciphering Teen Depression in America and How to Deal with It

One of the most difficult times in a parent’s life may be raising a teenager. Parents would do well to understand it’s often hard for teens as well. Depression is a serious mental health issue which is becoming more prevalent in America. Here are some tips on how to deal with it.

Recognize the Symptoms

At first, it may seem like your teenager is behaving badly. It’s vital to know that teenagers are often misunderstood. Being a teen isn’t easy. Here are a few signs that they may have depression:

  • Smartphone/internet addiction
  • Violent behavior
  • Running away
  • Thinking about dying or suicide
  • Rebelling
  • Feeling hopeless, anxiety or sadness
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Ignoring responsibilities like skipping school, etc.
  • Sexual activity, alcohol or drug use
  • Isolation, withdrawal from friends and family
  • Having fatigue and pains
  • Apathy
  • Side effects of medication
  • Death of a loved one, parents’ divorce or another dramatic occurrence

Decrease Smartphone Time

Teenagers might feel like their smartphones and the internet are a distraction from reality. The problem is that these devices are likely stopping them from admitting to themselves that they’re unhappy. This could lead to serious mental health issues according to research done on 8th through 12th-grade kids. As the use of smartphones increased in teens, depression symptoms rose between 2010 and 2015. The internet provides a similar distraction from what’s really going on. Hidden emotions come out eventually one way or another. This could occur in many ways and has the potential to ruin someone’s life.

What Not to Do

As a parent, you should be careful about how you deal with their issues. Try to be understanding and realize they’re still children. At the same time, don’t be forceful or disrespectful either. Don’t ignore any strange behavior such as overwhelming emotions like shame or guilt, threats of suicide or death obsessions, or other bizarre behavior. Respect them as human beings by respecting their privacy, keeping appropriate boundaries and give them the personal space they need to mature and grow into young adults. Be aware that you’re the grown-up in the situation. You have the right to exert your authority in a responsible manner where necessary without being overly harsh or controlling.

How to Help Them

Making an honest effort to help teens with their issues in the right way could greatly improve their lives. This could also make your life, as a parent, a whole lot simpler by helping you avoid drama. Your teen will be grateful later on if you don’t ignore their problems. Some ways to help them are included here:

  • Spend time together as a family (eat meals together, etc.)
  • Listen to them without arguing or other comments
  • Encourage volunteering or community involvement without being forceful
  • Motivate them by teaching healthy behavior like sleeping well, eating right and exercising regularly
  • Be positive and offer genuine praise
  • Tell them you’re available to talk if they need you
  • A trusted therapist or counselor will be able to help your teen receive treatment if necessary or give additional advice

Appropriate Ways for Teenagers to Spend Time

Teenagers may end up hanging out with the wrong crowd or spending too much time thinking negative thoughts. To discourage unhealthy behavior use creative thinking skills to come up with appropriate ways for them to spend their downtime. Volunteering is a great way to help them be more empathetic to the plights of others. If your teen loves animals they may enjoy volunteering at an animal shelter, fostering or even adopting a needy dog or cat. It’s extremely important for teenagers to learn to express their feelings in healthy ways through creativity. You could encourage them to express themselves by doing artistic activities like drawing, painting or playing a musical instrument.

Worrying about your teen’s issues or ignoring them won’t make them go away. The symptoms of depression and the pressures of being a teenager can be one of the hardest things to deal with as a parent and as a teenager too. If your child needs additional help, you may want to consider the possibility of teen residential treatment in Malibu California at Centered Health.

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/teen-depression#1
https://www.healthline.com/health-news/depression-the-growing-american-mental-health-storm#6
https://healthguides.healthgrades.com/finding-the-best-depression-treatment/the-dos-and-donts-of-helping-a-teen-with-depression
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/07/art-therapy-children_n_7113324.html