Recognizing & Treating Teen Depression
Feelings of anxiety or sadness are a normal part of growing up. However, when those feelings become persistent or more extreme and interfere with a child’s day-to-day life, they can be a sign of something more serious.
Too often, signs of depression in teenagers are brushed aside as simply being “moody” or “angsty.” Neglecting obvious warning signs can lead to serious consequences, so understanding teenage depression and what you can do to treat it are paramount.
A troubling trend
Unfortunately, teenage depression is on the rise in recent years. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2017, 13% of U.S. teens between the ages of 12-17 reported experiencing at least one depressive episode throughout the course of a year. That number marked an 8% increase from 2007.
The trend is more pronounced in teen girls. The same report from the Pew Research Center notes 1 in 5 teenage girls — or about 2.4 million — had experienced at least one major depressive episode over the same timeframe. That number was considerably lower in teen boys, only 7% — or 245,000 — of whom reported a major depressive episode. Among those teen girls who had experienced some form of depression, 45% received treatment; of the teen boys, 33% received treatment.
Recognizing the signs
According to the Centers for Disease Control, behaviors often seen in children with depression can include any of the following:
- Frequently feeling sad, hopeless, or irritable
- No desire to enjoy fun activities
- Changes in eating patterns
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Difficulty paying attention
- Feelings of worthlessness, uselessness, or guilt
- Committing acts of self-harm or exhibiting self-destructive behavior
What can you do?
If you feel like your child is exhibiting signs of depression, talk with a healthcare provider or mental health specialist about getting an evaluation. Beyond professional help, the best thing you can do for your child is to let them know they are loved, valued, and supported.
Environmental and routine changes can also make an impact. Minimize stresses for your teen by providing a better diet, more exercise, better sleep, more routine activities, and providing social support.
You can be the difference for yourself or someone you love. To learn more, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
If you or someone you love needs mental health support or counseling, ask your trusted primary care provider about Counseling Services at Culbertson Memorial Hospital.
If there is an urgent need for medical attention, contact emergency services immediately.
Geiger, A. W., & Davis, L. (2020, December 23). A growing number of American teenagers – particularly girls – are facing depression. Pew Research Center. Retrieved November 12, 2021, from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/07/12/a-growing-number-of-american-teenagers-particularly-girls-are-facing-depression/.