The swerve of emotions experienced by teenagers could be a natural phase people at their age are most likely to deal with. However, when the state of emptiness and worthlessness goes on each day for up to two weeks, it is a sign of a depressive disorder. The responsibility of taking them into assessment and treatment lies among adults around them.
Depression is a mental health illness that cannot be overcome by personal willpower. Just like other physical illnesses, depression requires treatment. Unfortunately, 20% of teenagers in the United States experience depression before adulthood, and 30% of them are usually left untreated.
What Causes Teenage Depression
The popularity of social media has contributed to the growing number of teenagers nowadays who lack a personal value of themselves. The standard for individual worth has become superficial and this has led individuals to develop poor judgment of themselves. As a result, coping skills among teenagers have weakened over time.
With the advent of technology, teenagers have found a more convenient space to isolate themselves and enjoy the company of social media friends whose presence is limited online. Spending hours of screen time have also compromised physical wellness, making them more vulnerable to poor mental health.
The evolution of time is only one aspect to consider in determining the causes of depression among teenagers at present. Even in the age when the internet has not yet existed, teenage depression already exists. It can occur especially when it runs in the family. The following are other factors to note why depression exists among teens:
Current Health Conditions
Individuals with underlying mental health disorders are more vulnerable to depression. Teenagers who have learning disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and eating disorders may struggle coping with academic rigor as well as social norms. These instances may trigger feelings of despair and self-pity that can run for days.
Traumas from past and present experiences may leave a mark and cause a depressive state. Examples of stressors are experiences of violence and abuse, sudden loss of a loved one, and divorce between parents. These incidents may suddenly shift teenage behavior by appearing more withdrawn or neglecting responsibilities that used to matter.
Rejection among teenagers may be too hard to bear. In school, bullying is a form of rejection. Being ostracized in class, beaten up, and humiliated by schoolmates can be a source of depression. At home, unacceptance of gender identity as well as neglect from parents can also be a cause of depression.
How Does The Treatment Work
When a teenager is experiencing depression, the role of parents or guardians is very important. The adults have to bring the teenager to a mental health professional to be assessed, diagnosed and be given the right treatment. This is a really crucial role since depression, when left untreated, is life-threatening.
Statistics reveal that the third leading cause of death among young individuals from age 15 to 24 is suicide. Apart from this, depressed teenagers are also susceptible to engage in substance addiction, a temporary cure that leads to a worse condition. This is the reason why it is necessary to be treated at the earliest time possible.
There are three options available for depression treatment among teenagers. One is the prescription of antidepressants. Two is engagement in psychotherapy. And three is the combination of both. It is important to actively engage the teenager in designing the treatment plan on top of the guidance of an adult and a physician.
Prescription of Antidepressants
Antidepressants are commonly used as medication among adults who are diagnosed with depression. It has been proven safe and effective among adults. However, prescription of antidepressants among teenagers must be closely supervised since they may likely experience increased suicidal thoughts as a side effect at the onset of the treatment.
Prozac and Lexapro are classified as pediatric antidepressants which are prescribed to patients from 8 to 18 years old. These are proven to be effective in reducing symptoms of depression and improving mood in the long run. It is best to always let the physician know of any side effects experienced upon medication.
Engagement to a Psychotherapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most highly recommended therapy for teenage depression. This kind of treatment allows teenagers to build meaningful connections within their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It strengthens their coping skills by identifying realistic combat against their perceived depressive reality.
Family therapy is also another option effective in treating teenage depression caused by conflicts in the family. The cooperation of family members plays a significant role in this treatment. It helps the patient and the family improve communication with each other and build healthier relationships.
While 60% of teenagers who took medication alone as a treatment have improved, a combined treatment has significantly been more effective – even twice as effective as those who took psychotherapy treatment alone. However, treatment depends on different levels of depression so what works with others is not a guarantee that works for all.
Combined treatment can be conducted in both inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities. Severe depressive disorders are usually prescribed to take inpatient treatment while mild to moderate levels may resort to outpatient care. The cost of treatment greatly varies between the two with inpatient more expensive than the other.
How To Support Teenagers With Depression
When a teenager opens up about experiences of hopelessness and emptiness, it is important to respond with a listening disposition and as much as possible, never make any judgment for how they feel. Acceptance is the first step to encourage them to overcome their own depressive state.
Listening and not lecturing is your safest approach to your teens when they are feeling sad, or on the brink of depression. Besides that, as their parents or older adults, it is your duty to encourage them to go to a professional specialized for treating behavioral disorders.
It is also necessary to be watchful for symptoms that could lead to suicidal attempts or self-harm. Be in constant communication with the teen and surround them with the warmest environment possible. Most importantly, bring them to a medical professional to be assessed, diagnosed, and treated right away.