Parents: Essential Tips to Remember About Teen Depression



If you are concerned that your teen may have depression, there are some important facts to know about this mental illness. These facts may inform the way you respond to your teen’s symptoms and discomfort. Of course, as you may already know, getting help for your teen, as you would with any illness, will prevent depression from getting worse.  Here are some facts about depression to keep in mind:


There is no typical picture of depression. Not all teens with depression are going to look alike. You may notice classic symptoms in your teen. And these symptoms you might already be aware of and can look out for them. However, there are signs of depression that are lesser known. Whether your teen is exhibiting the usual signs of depression or not, if you have a concern, schedule an appointment with a mental health provider.


Depression for teens is not moodiness. Teens experience moodiness as a regular part of adolescence. It’s a natural symptom of the many changes they are experiencing. They are growing psychologically, emotionally, physically, and socially. For this reason, teens might experience a swing of moods from time to time. Also, teens generally sleep a lot. Although this might also be taken as a symptom of depression, it’s natural for teens to want to sleep long hours. In fact, teens need 9 to 10 hours of sleep versus the 8 hours that adults need. So, what is the difference between depression and the typical experience of adolescence? When depression sets in, there might be mood swings, a drop in grades, unexplained physical aches and pain, and isolation from friends and family. Although typically depression is the consistent experience of a low mood, feelings of agitation and irritability are common symptoms of depression in teens.


Teens might experience co-occurring disorders. It’s not always the case, but parents should know that sometimes teens can experience more than one mental illness at a time. For instance, some teens might experience depression as well as struggle with an addiction. Or they might have anxiety while also struggling with depression. In fact, anxiety and depression are closely related. It’s common to believe that one illness is going to explain the symptoms that a teen might be experiencing. But that is not always that case. Teens may be experiencing another illness on top of depression.


Depression is a progressive illness. Depression that is not treated can get worse over time. In fact, many suicides are the result of depression. When teens are not given medication to stabilize their mood, tools to manage their thinking, and support, all of which come with treatment, their depression might get worse.


Depression is treatable. With the right medication combined with therapy, a teen’s mood, can stabilize and, over time, he or she can return to a healthy level of functioning at school, home, and work. It’s important to know is that depression is best treated with a combination of both medication and therapy. Medication alone is not a thorough treatment plan. Therapy can facilitate a teen’s understanding for the need of medication treatment, and it can even improve the effectiveness of that medication. Both treatment forms are necessary for a safe, effective recovery from depression.


These are important facts for parents and caregivers to keep in mind about teen depression. However, if you suspect depression in your teen, contact a mental health provider today.