Depression doesn’t just affect those who are diagnosed with it. It can also extend to family and friends. Watching someone you love go through such a difficult mental illness can be frustrating and heartbreaking, and these issues can arise during adolescence. But there are steps that you and your teenager can take, and you don’t have to try and figure it out on your own. With proper guidance and the help of a team of specialists, treatment centers, and family members, you can help your teen in the right direction.
What is depression?
Depression isn’t just the occasional mood swing or feeling of sadness. It can consist of long bouts of suppressed appetite, overwhelming negative emotions (or even an overwhelming “empty” feeling), and low levels of energy. Depression affects over 16 million adults and over 3 million teenagers per year in the United States.
And mental illness doesn’t just interfere with your internal state: it can alter life in many ways everyday, such as interfering with family, social interactions, and work life. A depressed person may lose interest in things he or she once enjoyed. By the age of 14, more than half of all chronic mental illness begins to show, and if left untreated, it can worsen. Chances are, the depression won’t fade without treatment — while there are important benefits to speaking with friends, family, or even therapy pets (not that they’ll answer much), it’s also crucial to look for professional support by consulting with a psychologist or psychiatrist, whether at a private practice or in a treatment center.
Treatment for depression in teens
Being a teenger brings on a range of excitement and anxiety. Normal feelings of doubt, sadness, and other mixed emotions are common in young adults. Their body is ever-changing and they may not always understand what’s happening. Self-identity is also blossoming for teenagers, which is complicated enough without the academic challenges and evolving social norms.
If you suspect your teen is struggling with depression, you can find help through hotlines or at treatment facilities like Polaris Teen centers. Treatment centers provide support and guidance for teens who struggle with major depression, self harm, eating disorders, and other conditions. A team of mental health doctors and counselors will create a program just for your teen and the specific issues they’re facing. A study showed that with help, two out of three teens found beneficial results during mental health treatment. A treatment plan can consist of not just therapy, but medications which can help reduce symptoms.
What can you do to help
Supporting a teen who is struggling with depression can be difficult for the entire family. Your teenager may not wish to divulge their problems, and approaching a teenager who is depressed can be daunting. Always employ a gentle approach by asking what you can do to help. You can take this time to gain insight into why they feel the way they do. By acknowledging how they have been acting lately, you are letting them know that you’re concerned and worried.
However, if they choose not to tell you, don’t be discouraged. Keep an open line of communication and let your teen know you are there for them. You can ask if they have anything on their mind, and make offers to do things together. Spending time together can open your teen up in a non-aggressive or threatening way, and this way, you’re giving them the lead to share on their terms. It can be hard for your teen to express how he or she is feeling, and asking for space, whether in an aggressive way or not, is your teen’s way of coping.
So don’t give up. In the meantime, there are further steps you can take such as researching signs of teen depression and gathering the contact info for local therapists. Mental illness is a tough thing to deal with, but with the right tools and support, you and your family can get through it one day at a time.