While teens are going though many changes, teen depression is not a ‘normal’ part of growing up! If you suspect your teen may be going through depression, seek some form of coaching or counselling for your teen.
The symptoms of teen depression include:
1. Poor school performance
2. Showing lethargic behaviour and a lack of interest
3. Low energy, prolonged sadness, frequent crying
4. Avoiding family or friends in order to be alone, less willing to socialize
5. Anger, hostility, touchiness (it’s not always indicated by sadness)
7. Drug and alcohol abuse
8. Thoughts of death and suicide
Based on the symptoms listed above, you may have noticed there isn’t a particular pattern to look for when suspecting teen depression. Teen depression can be expressed through a number of inconsistent behaviours. Be alert to any unusual but prolonged changes in your teen.
Here are steps you can take to help your teen out with depression. These exercises require you to make time for your teen. If you don’t get the response you are looking for immediately, you need to stay patient and persist.
1. Communication: Communicate, communicate, and communicate. Many parents don’t realize they’ve stopped communicating with their teens until there is a problem. Communicate daily with your teen. If you suspect depression, it will be easier for you to get your teen to open up and see what is causing the depression. Many times depression starts with negative thoughts. Find out what your teen is thinking.
2. Meaning: Once you find out what your teen is thinking challenge the meaning s/he has attributed to the situation. Depressed individuals have a tendency to blame themselves for situations out of their control.
3. Perceived lack of control: Many teens don’t realize how much their own behaviour controls what events and outcomes occur. While it’s true they have no control over other people’s behaviour, they have complete control over their own. Individuals who feel hopeless and believe things just happen to them are more likely to experience depression.
4. Lifestyle: Poor eating habits, no exercise, setting unrealistic goals to prove to parents teen is worthy of their attention is physically and psychologically unhealthy. Model a frequent exercise routine and healthy eating habits. Give your teen healthy attention whether s/he achieves her goal or not. You can provide pointers later, but be sure to notice the effort and courage first. A healthier lifestyle will help eliminate many depressive symptoms.
5. Home experience: Mom and dad focus on the quality of the experience your teen receives at home. This includes the type of relationship you have with your teen and how much time you offer to him/her. Studies have shown that when the home is stable and teens have great interactions with caregivers, they are psychologically and physically healthier.
Best Wishes to You and Your Family!
Ivana Pejakovic, Life Coach in Toronto