Teenage depression: Is it just a phase in growth?
We all remember when we were teenagers. Boy, what a phase in our lives.
What with the need for peer acceptance, parental expectations, raging hormones, acne…
It’s no wonder teenage depression exists in such high numbers.
From research and even mere observation, teenage depression actually manifests itself differently from adult or childhood depression as during this age, teens want to start to mark their territorial signs of independence and the last thing a teen may want to do is admit they need help for depression. Teenagers tend not to display gloom, self-depreciation, or talk about feeling hopeless like adults do during this stage of their lives if they are depressed, so as a parent or adult role-model you may need to watch for other signs of depression in the teenager you are dealing with.
Teenage Depression: Symptoms to watch out for
Though the signs of teenage depression may vary in both sexes, here are some symptoms that are common to both male and female teens battling with depression.
1. Excessive negativity and antisocial behaviors.
2. Wanting to leave home or retreat to their rooms constantly.
3. Inattention to personal appearance.
4. A lack of desire to co-operate in family get-togethers and activities.
Signs of Teenage Depression in Males:
1. Increasing in aggression and agitation.
2. A higher tendency to get in trouble with school or the law.
3. Reckless behavior such as uncontrolled use of illegal substances.
Signs of Teenage Depression in Females:
1. Less attention to their appearance.
2. Pre-occupation with death and themes of suicide.
3. Excessive promiscuity or an extreme isolation from members of their opposite sex.
Although this is not a conclusive list of the signs of teenage depression one should look out for in teens, the ones listed above are the most common ones. In addition to these depression symptoms in regards to teenager, other ones may include a lower self-esteem than average, referrals to suicide (in extreme cases) and a general negative outlook on life.
It indeed may be challenging to cope with as an adult to deal with a depressed teenager as it’s a catch 22 situation, they want to be independent as teens, yet they need your help.
Well, this may be a good time to simply take charge, albeit with care and caution as we are dealing with delicate and sensitive emotions here and reach out to help.
Teenage Depression: Solutions for coping with depression in your teen
- If necessary, seek professional help. I lean more towards drug-free alternatives so meetings with competent Pastors, guidance counselors, teachers and therapists may suffice to at least get a diagnosis…if you need one.
- Talk to your teen’s friends and or their parents, although this approach requires care, remember, they are starting to declare independence and ‘snooping’ around on them may be defeating the purpose of reaching them, so do this with care and tact.
- Suggest one-on-one outings with phrases like: “hey, how about a game of basket ball, just you and I..?’ or “Hey how about us girls take a trip to the Mall?”
If they refuse, don’t appear too crushed; simply respond with an understanding “okay maybe some other time…
- Ask if there is anything they’d like to discuss and this will be a great time to be more of the listener and less of the talker as soon as they start to open up.
- Don’t be what you’ve not always been to your teen, in other words being overly nice or “Bill Cosby-ish” (no pun intended Mr. Cosby) , trust me, they’ll see right through the act and may withdraw even more.
- Watch for signs of suicide (in extreme cases) and if there is the slightest
indication, double up your efforts to reach your teen. It helps if you’ve been close as parent and child from the beginning.
- In the hopes things are not as extreme, soon as they manifest signs of reaching out, help, be there. Incorporate such limbs of a natural treatment for depression as exercise, proper diet and positive thoughts and affirmations.
- Set a good example of being upbeat around your teen as much as possible. This can also be more of preventive measure if any.
- Prayer. If you are spiritual, pray and it doesn’t hurt and can help immensely to ask
your depressed teen to join. “Where two or more are gathered in My name, there will I be.” Keep that promise from Above in mind-it works.
Teenage depression may wear a different mask from all other types, but it is essentially the same and with the proper steps taken can be overcome. Do not panic, however, be strong and there for your teen and in applying the steps above with other suggestions or creative ideas you deem right as an adult dealing with a depressed teen, you will be able to steer him or her back to a positive outlook on life.