Learn how to help a teen with depression…Teenage years are a vulnerable time.
The struggles many teens experience are in the spotlight because of a sharp increase in teen depression.
If your child is acting differently or depressed lately, it’s natural to be worried. The good news is, there are steps both of you can take to help them feel better.
Recent Causes of Teen Depression
The world your child lives in is very different than the one you experienced at their age.
Over the last few decades, rapid technological advancement has created ways for young people to connect that their parents couldn’t.
While many teenagers communicate constantly with friends by text and social media, they’re doing most of it alone. Since 2011, teens have begun spending more time talking with friends online and less time in person with those closest to them.
It helps reduce the risk of depression.
Humans are social creatures and need face-to-face contact with others.
We can pick up clues and feelings from body language and facial expressions.
Social isolation is a major risk factor for depression, and contact that takes place online doesn’t fully meet your teen’s need to be social.
What You Can Do to Minimize Teen Isolation
Encourage your teen to invite friends over to do homework or study.
- Eat dinner together regularly – no electronics allowed!
- Take a special interest in the conversations your child has with others in person.
- Set a good example by speaking to those you see out and about, like neighbors, co-workers, friends, etc.
- Encourage your child to get involved in offline activities like sports, clubs, or personal hobbies.
Self-Esteem and Social Media
Body image and self-esteem have been struggles for teenagers since the beginning of time.
The prevalence of social media makes them worse by providing an endless source of content against which children can judge themselves.
For both sexes, social media exposure is linked to poor body image and disordered eating. These two conditions are also linked to depression.
Girls feel more pressure to post on social media, and they are more likely to view and be affected by the content there.
Besides seeing what their friends are up to, social media provides an endless stream of impossibly beautiful photos of models and celebrities. Exposure to this kind of unrealistic content contributes to lowered self-esteem.
What You Can Do to Reduce Low Self-Esteem Due to Social Media
- Remind your child that airbrushed and photoshopped images of models and celebrities do not represent what they look like in real life.
- Discuss the tendency of social media to only present the extremes—good and bad—of life.
- Set a good example by limiting your own interaction with social media.
Social and Economic Pressure
Children and teenagers need security and consistency in today’s volatile world. Many teens grew up in a recession. Some saw how easily their parent’s jobs or family homes could be lost.
Mobile device use also contributes to the heavy pressure teens live in. For most teens, their online world is simply an extension of their life in the real world.
This makes it hard for them to escape from and cope with real-world problems. The pressure can be exhausting and can contribute to feelings of depression.
What You Can Do About Social and Economic Pressures on Your Child
- Assure your child they don’t have to worry about matters you are responsible for; e.g. household finances.
- Teach them how to manage their money responsibly, so they feel prepared for adulthood.
- Discourage comparisons with friends and their families.
- Encourage your child to learn independence by getting a summer job.
How to Help a Teen with Depression
Step 1. Look for Signs of Depression
Recognizing depression in teenagers is not always easy. Adolescence is already an emotionally volatile time. Many teenagers find it hard to understand and express their feelings, so they may be less likely to seek help.
Whether your teen is clinically depressed or just going through a rough time, you can do a lot as a parent to help them! One way is simply to be aware of the signs of depression in teens, which include:
- Poor or worsening academic performance
- Withdrawal from friends and/or hobbies and activities
- Changes in sleeping or eating habits
- Changes in mood, such as an increase in anger, sadness, or irritability
- Overreaction to criticism
- Difficulty focusing or making decisions
- Risk-taking behavior, such as substance abuse or sexual promiscuity
- Suicidal thoughts or behavior
Step 2. Realize You’re Not Alone
If your child shows signs of depression, they’re not alone. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), up to 20% of teenagers become depressed. Psychology professor Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D. notes that since 2012, the proportion of U.S. teens experiencing depression has increased.
Between 2011 and 2015, the number of teens with clinical depression increased by 50%, and their struggles don’t stop once they leave your house: Up to 44% of college students deal with depression at some point.
Step 3: Seek Professional Help
If your teen shows signs of depression, it’s time for a talk. Ask them about what they’re feeling. Let them know you’re available to talk about whatever is bothering them, with no judgment and no pressure. Listen even if it’s difficult to hear what they have to say.
Your child can also be screened for depression. In 2018, the AAP updated its guidelines to recommend teens be screened annually. Early diagnosis can improve the outcome of treatment.
Talk with your child about treatment, and let them have some input into how they approach it. This may involve a therapist or psychiatrist, medication, or TMS treatment.
TMS is a non-invasive treatment that can improve your teen’s depression symptoms in as little as four to six weeks. It’s safe, painless, and effective, and your teen won’t experience the side effects that are typically associated with antidepressants.
Teen Depression Is Treatable!
Depression can appear to change every aspect of your teen, transforming them into someone you don’t recognize anymore. But depression doesn’t define your child. It’s a treatable illness.
If you’re wondering how to help a teen with depression, it may be best to start by helping them seek treatment.
To learn more about TMS therapy as a treatment for teen depression, contact Success TMS at 855-943-3232.