Teen Depression: Do's and Don't s
Teenage is the most confusing time of growing up. In this transitional phase from childhood to adulthood, the body goes through many hormonal and personality changes. Amongst all the change and confusion, it is difficult to pin point if the adolescent is just growing up normally or experiencing a condition that requires professional help. Mood swings and feeling low are a constant in the adolescents’ lives, especially in the contemporary global world, where everyone is exposed to social media, cyber bullying and infinite information.
Depression in teens is not uncommon, however if it persists for more than two weeks then it is a cause of concern. Most teens complain of feeling constantly misunderstood and that they don’t feel like they belong anywhere. Teens need to be given more attention and have their insecurities addressed before they manifest into full blown anxieties.
Taking care of teens is always challenging for parents and guardians as teens are almost always rebellious and seem to deliberately get into everyone’s bad books. Since teens are still kids at heart, this behavior is merely indicative of the fact that they need attention, that they are vying for attention with their behavior.
How do you tell that your teen is depressed?
If you have observed any sudden changes in your teen like mood swings in which their moods disrupt their daily lives, then your teen may be suffering from depression. If the changes last for more than 2 weeks then your teen needs professional help.
Other symptoms that your teen may display are; a dissociation from everything they love and withdrawal from spending time with friends, a change in personality and appearance, irregular eating and sleeping patterns, a constant state of extreme emotion like hopelessness, rage or restlessness, a drop in performance in education and but not limited to substance abuse.
Do’s and Don’ts of helping your teen in depression
Your teen is just learning to grapple with reality and simple issues may seem larger than life to them. The key to helping your teen is effective communication. As we have already established that teens mostly need to be heard and understood, just giving them a compassionate listening ear can help your teen in their difficult time.
Patiently listen to what they have to say, without commenting on anything. Let them feel heard and understood. Appreciate their thoughts and endeavours to boost their confidence. Create a comfortable space for them to approach you, with their problems. Set aside some time in your day to indulge in a common activity with them to create an opportunity to talk, this helps your teen to place more trust in you. Schedule meals together as meal times are a great opportunity to initiate dialogue with your teen. Discuss their lives with them and help them make their own decisions. Encourage your teen to keep themselves in great physical shape by regulating their eating, sleeping and exercise routines. After all a healthy body is the way to a healthy mind.
Your teen has a tough time trusting adults so never force your teen into anything or they will lose their trust in you. Don’t force them to talk to you about their problems or try to forcefully solve their problems for them, show them a window where they may approach you themselves. Teens are impatient and short tempered, and may lose their temper with you too. In this situation, it is imperative that you keep your cool and never rage back or handle the situation with aggression. When you respond calmly, your adolescent will respect you more and look up to you for more advice.
However there are some alarming signs that you must look out for and never wait to seek professional help for. If you see your adolescent demonstrating irrational behavior and touching upon the topic of death and suicide often, don’t ignore your intuition and consult a professional immediately. Obsession with death, feelings of intense guilt and shame, and hopelessness must never go unaddressed as they will only get worse.
Teenagers have a difficult time coping up with all the changes in their lives because the way they perceive the world changes. With all the furious turmoil going on their heads, it isn’t surprising that teens around the world are getting increasingly susceptible to depression. Since adolescents are still children, the onus is on the adults to understand this behavior and help teens grow out of their insecurities.