Depression Treatment for Teens and Young Adults

Adolescence is an emotional rollercoaster for many, during which teens and young adults experience dramatic shifts in their moods. While this turbulent period of development is known for difficult emotions, persistent, or intense negative feelings should not be accepted as “par for the course”.

More complicated and potentially debilitating than occasional feelings of sadness, depression is a mood disorder that can impact every aspect of a teen or young adult’s life. Individuals who suffer from depressive disorders typically require the help of a professional depression treatment program.

“The staff is incredibly dedicated and loving. They were extremely supportive and welcoming of me. Thank you so much for all you have done for me.” – Katrine Louise Reyes (Google review)

Understanding and Seeking Treatment

Without treatment, depression can wreak havoc on a young person’s mental and physical health. This can lead to a decrease in quality of life, withdrawal from relationships, work problems, and school trouble. Teenage depression can possibly even to self-harm or suicidality. Unfortunately, depression is common in teens and young adults. Teen depression and young adult depression often require expert treatment from mental health professionals.

Thankfully, Paradigm Treatment is here to help depressed teens and young adults. Young people who are struggling with the effects of this mental health disorder can find the help they need through our program. By offering depression rehab for teenagers and young adults, Paradigm Treatment provides a beacon of hope for the families who come to our California facilities for mental health treatment services.

The Most Common Signs of Depression

The first step in treating young adult and teenage depression is to learn to recognize its warning signs. Depression is often accompanied by a host of behavioral and physical symptoms. These can include:

  • Changes in sleeping patterns and sleeping habits
  • Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emotional numbness
  • Frequent or extreme experiences of self-doubt, self-hatred, worthlessness, low self-esteem, or guilt
  • Increased irritability or frustration, even in the face of seemingly minor annoyances
  • A lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities or socialization with friends and family members
  • Decreases in energy, which may be tied to sleep issues like insomnia or oversleeping
  • Cognitive effects like slowed thinking, “brain fog”, or difficulty in concentrating on tasks or making decisions
  • Weight gain from overeating or a lack of activity, or weight loss from stress
  • Thoughts or attempts at self-harm or suicidal ideation
  • A general inability to experience pleasure, known as anhedonia
  • Uncharacteristic or abrupt changes in behavior (i.e. a teen suddenly acting out when it is out of step with their personality)

In some cases, severe teen depression can produce an imminent threat, leading to teen suicide. If your teen or young adult child is suffering from severe depression symptoms, such as suicidal thoughts or self-harm, it’s important to reach out to a mental health professional immediately.

Most instances of the term “depression” refer to major depressive disorder, characterized by severe and persistent low mood and a lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities. There are, however, numerous types of major depression. They vary in their causes, severity, symptoms, and appropriate treatment approaches.

  • Persistent depressive disorder, also known as dysthymia, can have fewer or less severe symptoms than major depressive disorder But the symptoms typically last longer. Often, dysthymia lasts for more than a year.
  • Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression that tends to worsen at a particular time of year.
  • Bipolar disorder is not considered a depressive disorder. It does, however, involve severe mood changes where depressive episodes alternate with manic periods of increased energy and potentially risky behavior.

Knowing how to differentiate between these types of depression can help parents understand the causes and possible interventions for their teen or young adult’s struggles.

Depression in teens and young adults can stem from a variety of sources. A partial list includes hormonal changes, imbalances or abnormalities in brain chemistry, and traumatic or highly stressful life experiences. Certain conditions also increase the risk of developing depression, including:

  • A family history of depression
  • A high level of stress
  • The presence of other mental health conditions, like anxiety or a personality disorder
  • Having a learning disability or ADHD
  • Personality traits such as being highly self-conscious, self-critical, or having a tendency towards rumination

Teens and young adults suffering from depression will likely exhibit some obvious changes in behavior. But they may also attempt to hold their feelings inside and maintain a facade of normality. Many teens might be hesitant to ask for help.

Many teenagers with depressive feelings are hesitant to ask for help from others or to consider professional treatment. They may hesitate out of fear of judgment or being misunderstood. When teens suffer from adolescent depression may feel that mental health issues mark them as abnormal, weak, ill-adjusted, or “crazy”. Young people sometimes interpret their feelings as isolated incidents, minimize their experiences, or simply justify them as normal feelings for teenagers.

Encouraging Your Teen

Maintaining regular communication with your child is the best way to ensure their emotional health and stay on top of changes that may signal a problem. If you’ve noticed signs of depression in your teenager, ask how they have been feeling and gently bring up areas or behaviors that concern you. Try not to lead with accusations or bombard your teenager with too many questions at once. Instead, it’s best to prompt a discussion, listen, and offer support.

When discussing the possibility of professional treatment for your teen or young adult’s depression, listen to your child’s concerns and questions and be ready to address them with an open mind. Emphasize that the goal of professional young adult and teenage depression treatment is to help them cope with their feelings and give them the tools to solve underlying problems.

Teens and young adults may resist the idea of treatment because of fears of medication or stigmas around treatment. Try and be respectful of these concerns, while encouraging compromise or positive first steps towards treatment where possible.


Effective Treatment Approaches for Teen and Young Adult Depression

Depression rehab for teens and young adults can take a variety of forms, depending on the individual’s experience of depression, its causes and severity, and their preferences. The first step of treatment, regardless of the specific path one chooses, should involve consultation with a healthcare provider or mental health professional. From there, parents and their teens or young adults can consider a variety of therapeutic, medication-based, and lifestyle modification options.

When it comes to treating depression, there are many effective therapeutic options. These usually involve talk-based sessions with a licensed therapist who specializes in therapeutic approaches. Therapy for depression in young adults and teenagers can be incredibly helpful.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most common talk-therapy-based treatment modalities for depression. It helps individuals identify limiting thoughts and beliefs and replace them with more affirming, accurate, and helpful ones over time.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is focused on mindfulness of emotional processes. The goal is to achieve a balance between the acceptance of difficult thoughts and feelings on the one hand and one’s ability to make positive changes on the other hand.
  • Interpersonal Therapy is a therapeutic approach based on examining and working on relationships in one’s life. Teens and young adults learn positive and healthy ways to interact with peers, family, and others, which help them identify healthy boundaries and positively cope with difficult situations, like transitions in relationships and grief.

Other therapeutic approaches such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and mindfulness-based interventions can also be effective approaches.

Depression medication addresses the chemical imbalances in the brain that contribute to depression. Many medications exist to combat depression, each with its own mechanisms and potentially serious side effects to consider.

Antidepressant medications can be profoundly helpful for individuals struggling with moderate to severe cases of depression. However, they also carry a risk of serious side effects, including the possibility of increasing suicidal ideation and aggression in teens.

Careful monitoring with any new medication is thus highly recommended. Medication for depression can be a vital part of a treatment plan, but it is not a decision to make without consultation with a qualified medical professional.

Lifestyle changes are another way to treat depression but are likely not enough alone to combat severe depression. However, they can certainly aid your teenager or young adult’s physical and mental health in other ways.

Exercise, meditation, or healthy eating practices are common lifestyle changes that can help a person feel physically better and cope more healthily with the difficult feelings associated with depression. Some of these practices, like exercise, have also been shown to aid in reducing depressive symptoms. Positive lifestyle changes can be incredibly helpful when combined with other treatment strategies.

Experiential treatment for depression can include modalities such as art therapy, music therapy, or animal-assisted therapy. These kinds of treatment approaches can help teens and young adults develop confidence, self-esteem, and communication skills while aiding in the reduction of depressive symptoms.

Experiential therapies are generally not used in isolation. Rather, they are introduced as a part of a holistic treatment approach that helps teens or young adults with depression develop new skills and insights that enrich and carry over into their other treatment-related work and their lives as a whole.

Our Residential treatment Center for Young Adults and Teens With Depression

Residential treatment can be effective for teenagers or young adults with depression. Home may be a familiar environment, but it can also be associated with difficult memories. It can be tied to negative influences or it may simply limit one’s growth.

Residential treatment offers targeted treatment from trained experts. It also provides a supportive social environment that fosters interpersonal connection. Residential treatment for young adult and teen depression also offers a change in surroundings that encourages teens to push themselves in new ways and develop new skills. Learn how to tell when residential treatment is warranted.

Our Depression Treatment Program at Paradigm

Paradigm Treatment offers individualized treatment for depression and other co-occurring mental health disorders. Our intensive treatment program offers daily individual therapy. We also involve parents and other family members in the care process with weekly family therapy sessions.

Additionally, our treatment plan incorporates group therapy sessions to enable healing and growth as our clients build relationships with their peers in the program.

At Paradigm Treatment, we offer Psycho-Educational Services, providing our clients with information about mental health disorders, substance abuse, and our treatment approaches.

Our facilities work with a small number of clients, allowing us to maintain a staff-to-client ratio that allows for truly individualized care. This enables us to understand the unique underlying causes of our clients’ depression or other mental health challenges, and develop plans that are tailored to the individual to address them.

Our holistic approach goes beyond a mere focus on one mental health condition in our clients. Instead, we use a range of evidence-based modalities to help them overcome their challenges across all areas of health and transform their lives for the better. Contact us to learn more about how we treat depression and other mental health and psychiatric disorders. Our team is standing by to help you and your family today.


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For more information on Paradigm’s treatment approach, or if you’d like to begin working with us to help your teen address their depression or other mental health issues, please call today at (855) 921-4973.

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