Hello future teen expert,
Teen depression have increased in recent years and we have also seen an increase in teen suicide. Most of which has been live streamed in Facebook. This isn't meant to scare you, it is meant to help you understand that teenagers are struggling with regulating their emotions. They often need assistance with understanding what they are feeling and how to process those feelings. That is the main piece I want you to understand. Feelings have to be processed and processed in a healthy manner. This blog post will help you recognize when you need to intervene for your teen and get help.
Poor school performance
This is typically the first indicator that a parent may notice when their teen is experiencing mood shifts such as depression. Sometimes the parent may receive a heads up from the teacher about mood changes and lack of enthusiasm for completing work. The education and mental health system do not always work well together. However, it is important to explore the concerns a teacher may bring to your attention. This is not code for yell at your child. This is code for ask them what is going on for them to not be completing their work, to not turn it in or seem disinterested in the material being taught. This is going to give you the insight you seek. Depending on your teenagers answer, you will know what steps may need to be taken next. If this is an emotional barrier, you should consider home interventions such as frequently checking in with your teen, involving other people they are connected with to see if they can help. If those type of interventions do not work, therapy may be the next step for your family.
Self Harm behaviors
Self Harm can look a multitude of ways and we typically only think of cutting. Self harm is defined as non suicidal injury that deliberately harms the surface of your own body, such as cutting or burning yourself. Through my experience as a clinician, I have noticed self harm even goes beyond this definition. I have been working with teenage girls for 4+ years and I have noticed self harm looks different for every teenager. Here are two examples, of self harm that aren't just cutting or burning.
Risky sexual behavior
Of course, you are probably thinking, “ that isn’t self harm.” Let me tell you why it is. Risky sexual behavior may have emotional connections and components that we are not always looking for. This does not mean that I do not believe teenagers have sexual desires because they do. This simply means how they proceed with those desires can be self harm. If a teen is having sexual intercourse and they know their partner has a disease, that could be considered self harm. If teens don’t use protection, there’s also a chance for pregnancy and this can be seen as self harm.
A teenager could be crying out for help if they are always under the influence of a mind altering substance. I am sure we can all agree that teenagers may try substances in social situations. However, pay attention if it is a normal thing for them, especially if they appear to need it. They could be using in order to escape from reality and this is an indication that they may be depressed.
Irritability or Anger
I am sure you are reading this feeling every teenager you know is irritable and angry. I am here to tell you how that is not exactly accurate. Although, the brain is still developing for teenagers and they are quite moody, some of that is in normal range. The type of irritability I am referring to is fighting, yelling, cursing, property destruction and other behaviors that seem to be out of character and aggressive. If there are other children in the home, there could be a spike in sibling fights that are verbal and/or aggressive. Depression in teenage boys looks different from girls and boys tend to become more aggressive when they are depressed. A depressed teenage boy, may get involved in the wrong crowd, begin fighting, and etc to express his lack of zest for life.
Now, let's move on to the interventions that can be quickly applied for results.
3 quick ways to intervene
1.Have some face to face time
This is may be considered simple, however, depending on your situation it could be difficult. Spend more face to face time with your teenager. I do not mean via Face Time on your apple device. I literally mean be in their face. If someone is feeling depressed, spending quality time with them to show them you care will boost their mood. I am not saying one and done. I am saying make that a priority until you see the positive difference in mood.
2. Assess what could be happening to make them depressed
This could mean you have to address what your role is as mom, dad, aunt, grandma or whomever is caring for the teenager. In most family structures, there are multiple people interacting with that teen that could be affecting their mood.
3. Get active with your teen or link them to an activity
Exercise is a stress reliever and mood booster. Exercising with your teenager is a great way to bond. It is also a healthy way to manage stress. Although physical activity is a great option, also consider signing your teenager up for a mentoring program or events for teens in your area. Signing your teenager up for mentoring program provides them a space to be themselves and build healthy connections.
Today, I discussed three of the main signs that could indicate your teenager is depressed. There are more signs and you can find them here. Please pay attention to your teenager and their moods. Depression is serious mental health condition and can lead to suicidal ideations or attempts. Make sure you know community resources and phone numbers in your area as well as national numbers. The national suicide hotline number is 1-800-273-8255. Since we are in the age of technology, they also have a chat room online.
In closing, these are just a few of the signs to look for when your teen may be suffering from depression. The key to noticing is being attentive to your teenager. In behavioral health, we always talk about a baseline. This means observe the situation so you know how often the problem is happening in each setting they are involved in. Observe your child, get to know them, ask questions so you have a better understanding of when something is abnormal and address it quickly.
Although this may seem scary, do not be afraid of addressing it because you can get through it. All it takes is action and I can help with the type of action that is needed for your family. We can get through this together. Click here to schedule your free heart to heart session.
With love from your favorite therapist,