how parents can help a depressed teenager

Teen Depression - Ultimate Guide for Parents

The teenage years are challenging periods for both the teenager and the parent. Adolescence comes with unique changes evident through physical appearance, emotions, and social relations.
The hormonal fluctuations teenagers experience during this period add to their overall struggle. However, teenage depression can set in along the line owing to several factors such as poor academic performance, the social perception among peers, sexuality, and familial pressures. More recently, health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to rising cases of teenage depression.
According to WebMD, one out of eight adolescents has teenage depression.

Key Healthcare is helping many teens in LA with teen trauma disorders treatment, teen depression treatment, teen mental health treatment, teen drug addiction treatment, and more. During the course, our medical experts identified that if the teens were access to proper care during their growing time, they would have been in much better mental health. This is why we decided to help parents with a complete guide to teen depression which talks about why teen gets depressed, the symptoms of depression, and how parents can diagnose depression and understand how they can help their depressed teens after the pandemic.

Teenage Mental Health Statistics 2022

Teen depression is a severe health problem that impacts every aspect of a teen’s life. It is treatable, and parents can play a crucial role by encouraging positive thinking for teens. With love, guidance, and support, children can overcome depression and get their life back on track.

However, mental health issues are now common in adolescents and young adults. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) study, Depression among teens is rising. Here is a statistical manual to study teens experiencing depression :
  • 67% of the world population is between 10 and 19 years old.
  • 13% of the adolescent population have a mental disorder.
  • 7% of the U.S teenage population have Major Depression Episodes (MDE).
  • 12% of the U.S population between 12 to 17 had an MDE in 2021.
  • 6% of the teenage population with MDE did not receive any treatment.
  • One in five adolescents experiences depressive disorder each year.
  • Studies show that depression rates increased from 8% in 2004 to 24% in 2014.
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for teenagers aged between 15 and 19.
  • Other specific statistics are highlighted throughout this article.

Why has Adolescent Depression Increased?

Teenage depression rates were steadily rising before the pandemic. However, the rates increased sharply during the pandemic due to increased screen time, social media addiction, academic pressures, and many factors.

The social impact of closed schools was felt directly by teenagers who had never known what it felt like not to attend school physically. Many of these fell into teen social issues and loneliness, resulting in depression.

Online learning platforms were meant to reduce the effects of the disconnection teenagers felt with their immediate surroundings. However, the prolonged use of phones for social media browsing and gaming has had high negative impacts on the mental health of many teenagers.
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How Gender and Sexuality Relates to Teenage Depression

Several factors, including sexuality and pandemics, are other significant causes of teen depression. According to a CDC research, between 750,000 and 1.1 million teenagers identify as transgender or non-binary teenagers in the US. Up to 72% of this transgender population reportedly suffer from depression, half of whom have had suicidal thoughts.
Research shows that girls are more likely to have anxiety and depression, and boys are more likely to have behavioral problems. That’s sad because depression is a highly treatable disease. But most teens, unfortunately, could never get help, though. Teenagers and their parents need to know how to identify the condition, address it, and seek professional help to combat the mental illness.

Symptoms Of Teenage Depression

Teenagers suffering from depression exhibit drastic changes in behavior and emotional responses. Most depressed teens are sad for long periods. They typically lack the motivation to do things they enjoy and may be withdrawn and more secretive by staying away from regular family gatherings or staying all-time in the room. Other symptoms to look out for include:
  • Feeling sad or anxious
  • Loss of interest in food or over-eating
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Severe, unexplained crying spells
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Forgetfulness
  • Insomnia
Read More About Lack of Motivation Teen Therapy Treatment.

How To Know If Teens Are Depressed

Parents should understand teen depression symptoms and educate teens to know the signs of depression themselves. So, they can decide if they have the condition and be able to take quick steps to address it before it progresses further. As a significant point, The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that prolonged periods of sadness should be enough reason to talk to professionals and adults about depression. The institute also developed a series of questions that can help with a self-diagnosis of teen depression:
  • Are you frequently feeling sad, anxious, worthless, or “ empty “?
  • Are you have a lack interest in hobbies and activities you used to enjoy?
  • Are you excessively irritable, frustrated, and angry on the simplest issues?
  • Are you more withdrawn from your family and friends?
  • Is your academic performance dropping?
  • Are your eating and sleeping patterns considerably changed?
  • Are you experiencing excessive fatigue and frequent memory loss?
  • Do you have suicidal and self-harm thoughts?
Individual answers to these questions vary, but if your answers to at least five of these questions are positive, you should consider visiting a consultant.

The Warning Signs Of Teenage Depression

Many adolescents deal with depression, but there are a few tell-tale signs, even when your child doesn’t show all of them. They might sleep excessively or eat poorly. Kids might start exhibiting negative behaviors or criminal behaviors, like driving under the influence or shoplifting. Here are some other side effects of teen depression:
Substance Abuse
Depression is a mental illness that frequently co-occurs with substance use. Depression is most often recognized by long-term feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, and despair. Substances used as a common way for teens to escape from these feelings. Substances are also anti-depressants, meaning that prolonged use can exacerbate depressive symptoms.

Furthermore, antidepressants like Xanax can stimulate the receptors in the brain that drugs of abuse bind to, so a teen with developing depression might take drugs to avoid their symptoms. One-third of adults who have a substance use disorder also suffer from depression. Too much antidepressant use can complicate diagnosis because symptoms can be similar to depression.

Teen Suicide Risk factors
Suicidal thinking of teens is alarming, and parents can read the red flags to understand teens’ severe depression conditions. When teens have negative feelings, have trouble concentrating, or even attempt suicide, call for mental health professional immediately.
Instant help is available -at 800-273-8255 (national suicide prevention lifeline phone number)

Causes Of Teenage Depression in 2022

Depression is a complicated condition that has many potential triggers. It usually doesn’t happen from one specific cause, and it isn’t typically instantaneous. Instead, depression can develop over long periods and lead to a “downward spiral” of negative thoughts and feelings. The following are some of the causes of teenage depression in 2022:

Video Games

Excessive gaming leads many adolescents to isolate themselves in the physical world. They spend much of their time alone, are often withdrawn from friends and family, and may not exercise. This environment can lead to feelings of depression. In 2019, WHO recognized gaming disorder as a behavioral condition.
Addiction to video games is linked to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, physical ailments like cardiovascular stress, wrist pain, sleep issues, nervous system issues, and reduced physical activity. A study looked at more than 130,000 gamers aged 12-88 who participated in 50 separate studies done over 11 years and found that gamin caused 16% of OCD issues

Social Media

While social media addiction can cause minor symptoms of depression, such as low self-esteem, it is a risk factor for sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation directly contributes to social media depression and other major mental illnesses.
If a person is addicted to social media, it inhibits their daily life and sleep. One study showed that teens on social media for more than five hours a day were 70% more likely to fall asleep later or get less sleep than those who spend less time online.
Also, uncensored social media content consumption can cause significant self-image problems. Facebook conducted internal company research that showed that teenage girls had a bad self-image from using one of its products, Instagram, and did little about it. Without proper censoring of content, teenagers are exposed to all forms of content and can begin to show signs of depression.

Substance Abuse

Most teens in college or school admit to indulging in drug and alcohol use. According to teenage drug use statistics studies conducted in 2016 by the American Psychiatric Association, approximately 45% of male and 42% of female students smoke weed and drinking alcohol as a source of recreation.

There are several reasons students are likely to indulge in drug abuse, like peer pressure or social influence. Some students also resort to consuming drugs to deal with mental health issues. Sometimes, the tremendous academic and performance pressure causes teens to use drugs as an escape mechanism. Studies have also revealed that teens get about smoking and drinking from television shows, music, and movies. Many adolescents visiting parties and concerts drink or smoke to appear cool and fit in.

What Once Depressed Teenagers Had To Say to Us

“As time wore on, the pandemic disrupted our sense of community and safety. Caregivers and family members died. Parents lost jobs. Drinking and substance misuse increased. Youth lost control of meaningful parts of their lives: friendship and social support, academic routines, and rites of passage,” says Allan.

How Parents Can Help Their Teenagers With Mental Illness

Parents are typically unready to handle teenage troublesome behaviors. Due to the identified occasional bad moods, they often dismiss adolescent behavior as being rude or disrespectful. Some parents unconsciously worsen their teenager’s conditions by imposing punishments to deal with their teenagers. Even teens face psychological effects when we yell at them. A miserable teenager who needs help may ultimately start seeing suicide as a way out when they don’t get the help they need. The only way parents can handle teen depression is through honest communication and taking guided actions to resolve depression and anxiety among teens.
Ask Specific Questions
Start by raising questions about the negative patterns you have noticed in their behaviors. This does two things for your teenager. It makes them feel seen, and it makes them ready to talk about what is bothering them.
Listen to Your Teenager
It is extremely important to listen to your teenager. Don’t be in a hurry to respond, or you may risk having them block you off. Be understanding while talking and encourage them to say everything in their busy minds. When it seems too much for a day or two, fix meeting times until you are sure you have fully shared their reasons with you.
Support Your Depressed Teens
Teenagers are sensitive toward family conflicts, and they know when you react wrongly to their condition. Don’t let depression stop you from loving your teenager without restraint. Try to bring up the same activities you loved doing together and deliberately find ways to get involved in their lives without getting intrusive. The small efforts truly count here.

Talk About The Difficult Topics

Don’t avoid discussing complex topics like suicide and substance abuse with your teenager.  Even if parents are divorcing, they need to discuss it with their teens. You might be tempted to run from this topic, but you shouldn’t. Parents often have tough conversations when they find out their child is experimenting with drugs. Marijuana is considered a depressant, and it can intensify depression symptoms in those who are already depressed. Ask your teen about thoughts of self-harm and suicide; don’t worry if you plant a seed while discussing these topics, either. The more you talk with your teen about drugs or other difficult subjects; the more comfortable your teen may feel doing so in the future.

Get Mental Health Professional Help

Teen Depression takes time to develop, and it takes time to heal from too. Make sure you’re doing everything to help your loved one—take them to see a mental health professional and work closely with their doctor. If your teen has a therapist, make sure you’re working closely with that professional. These professionals will be on your teen’s treatment team.

How Can Depression Symptoms Be Diagnosis?

You may be depressed if you have five of the following symptoms nearly every day for at least two weeks.
If you have had four or more of these symptoms for longer than a year, you may have chronic depression.
Sometimes, symptoms come and go. However, some younger people will only experience depression once in their lifetime or might live with it chronically. Life events and some medical conditions can exacerbate the symptoms, so keep reading for more about depression and its effects.
Although being moody and being depressed are different with a thin lining. Mood disorder is much more common in women than men. It’s estimated that one out of five teenage girls will experience depression in their lifetime—compared to only one out of 10 teenage boys.
Clinical depression is a severe medical illness—not just a passing mood that someone might get over on their own. If you have depression, there’s a good chance that you’ll need therapy and medications to help you function well.

Key Healthcare helps teens residing in Los Angeles, Brentwood, Santa Monica, Westwood, Pacific Palisades, or Beverly Hills fight against depression. We have Teen PHP, Teen Intensive Outpatient Program, and Teen IOP programs that work holistically on teen mental health. Our programs accept most PPO insurance plans but unfortunately are not covered by Medi-cal or Medicaid.