Being a teenager is hard, physically and emotionally. It is not uncommon for teens to experience mood swings and have minor changes in behavior. However, around five percent of teens deal with clinical depression. This is a serious mood disorder that can affect every aspect of an individual’s life. With that number continually growing, it is crucial to become educated and know the options for treatment in helping a teen struggling with depression, to manage his depression and succeed.
The Effects of Depression
Depression can be a devastating disorder that can wreck havoc on every part of your teen’s life, including sleep, physical well-being, relationships, and academic work. While some changes in sleep habits, behavior, and social skills are typical during the teenage years, a sudden and drastic change can be an indicator of a bigger issue, and should be closely monitored and documented. If he has clinical depression, you may notice big, sometimes sudden, changes, such as:
Behaviorally – You may notice changes in sleep patterns (whether it be insomnia or sleeping too much), lack of interest in subjects or activities he once found desirable, or indications of self harm. In addition, eating pattern changes, fatigue, and restlessness can also be signs he may have clinical depression.
Emotionally – Mood swings and big changes in emotions are frequent during the teenage years. However, huge changes in emotions should be monitored. Increased irritability, hopelessness, anger, and overall sadness that interfere with his daily life may indicate more intense emotions that what can be expected with being a “typical” teenager.
Socially – A lack of desire to be social and hang out with family and friends is a common occurrence when living with clinical depression. Avoiding group activities, such as clubs and sports, and preferring to be alone, can also be red flags that your teen is struggling with depression.
Academically – As with the changes in emotions and behaviors associated with depression, his academic ability may suffer as well. Depression can contribute to a lack of interest and motivation, difficulty concentrating, not caring about himself the way he used to, and transform a well-performing student to a low-performing one quickly.
The Benefit of Therapy
Behavioral Therapy can be a very positive and beneficial way to help your child if he is struggling with clinical depression. The great thing about therapy is that it is individualized to his needs; there is no “one size fits most” approach. The most important thing to remember is to get help as soon as you become concerned about your child. Through a Behavioral Health evaluation, a therapist can help you and your teen determine if therapy would be a valuable asset.
Two of the main goals and benefits of receiving Behavioral Therapy are:
Individualized treatment plan – Your teen’s Behavioral Health Therapist has the knowledge and expertise to create a personalized treatment plan based on his depressive symptoms. Finding out if there are any specific triggers or ongoing stressors related to his depression, and devising a way to best deal with and change those triggers/stressors, can be a possible goal. Learning strategies and techniques to manage various depressive symptoms will also help your teen feel more in control of his emotions.
Support for your teen and you – Support and understanding are also important aspects of treatment that can contribute to your teen making progress in his fight against depression. Parent training and family counseling may also be options for you and your family to learn ways to help understand and support your teenager as he deals with clinical depression.
Finally, remember that it’s important to try to talk with your teen regularly. At the least, make sure he knows you’re there and willing to talk—or more importantly, just listen—if he needs you.
It may be hard to get him to open up, but the better you know him, the better prepared you are to help if there is a problem with his behavior, emotions, social life, or academics.
Sources: MayoClinic.org | WebMD.com | About-Teen-Depression.com | KidsHealth.org
Helping Your Teen Deal With Depression
Shandy Marso, Contributor