Teenage Depression - How to deal with Depression in Teenagers
Depression in Teenagers
The stress of the world is telling on our teenagers in the form of depression in teenagers. The number of calls I get, asking for help with teenage depression is on the increase. I wonder if teen depression was so rampant at the time when I was a teenager, maybe, rarely, we did hear of suicides then and those were more to be associated with a love gone wrong.This is not the case today, teenage depression is plaguing our societies and how prepared are we? Have we prepared our children for this world? If statistics is anything to go by, one out of ten teenagers suffer from depression or sever emotional problems and only less than 30% of them receive help.That is an alarming fact, but is anyone listening? Are people aware of the magnitude of depression in teenagers? - I wonder. Your teenager needs you, make sure you are there for them.
Signs of Teenage Depression
Although sadness, hopelessness, crying or change in eating and sleeping habits are great way to tell whether your teenager is depressed or not, you need to keep in mind other significant factors too. Your teenager may be hostile, irritable and violent at times, he/she may avoid company while not all company is shunned. Lacking concentration or showing no energy or enthusiasm could alert you to their emotional states. While these are telltale signs, keep your eyes and ears open for other signs and symbols, what is the subject of their doodles, the poetry, their stories or pictures they draw or paint, the kind of music he/ she is listening to, words and phrases that are casually thrown at you like ‘I am better off dead” or the like. Do not treat these as bad behaviour or shrug them away, be alert and ready to act, especially if you teenager will not tell you what is happening to him or her.
How to Deal with Teenage Depression
A parent once asked me how can I be there for my son, he does not want me anywhere near him? Irritability is a great way to mask depression, teenagers often use this defense mechanism. If you, as a parent are reacting to his/her irritability you would have lost the battle already. If you are not sure how to handle such behaviour, take help, take professional help. It is better to be safe than sorry.
As parents we need to be aware of what is happening with our teenagers. Do we even know what happens in our teenager’s world? Our teenagers live in a tough,meanworld and how connected are we with this world? Are you aware of your teenagers friends, his/her social networking, school college bullies and how he/she is coping with such things? Teenagers tend to hide and put on a brave front. if you are listening, I mean actively listening, to the emotions, that goes beyond the words, the underlying thoughts etc.. you would be a smart parent. Recognize that their world is hugely different from the world you lived in. Accept that you need to learn new skills to handle a whole new generation.
Parenting Teenagers - Dealing with depression
If you teenagers is reacting very strongly to criticism, start looking for clues. Is he/she being bullied else where? I think, as a parent and a counsellor, my best bet would be on making friends with your teenagers friends. My son’s friends tell me all the other things that my son may not have mentioned to me. Not that I am spying, but I need to know what is happening to him. Let me give you an example, from real life. As parents, we hardly ever worry about our son’s scores at school . Our son is a topper and we thought that he was coping very well in that area until a casual conversation with his friends revealed that he was totally shattered about his scores (mind you he had scored 85%) and was moping around in school. This was an eyeopener for me. I was not tuned in to that part of my son’s emotions, he always projects himself to be a person who does his best and does not care about his scores. I had to work with him in this regard, helping him understand that marks/scores are not everything in life. I am sharing this here, hoping that this would open your eyes to your teenagers emotional state. Do not take anything at its face value or for granted.
While some teenagers do cope well others don’t. It is easy for teenagers to go into depression or resort to drugs or suicide as a solution to their problems, if you are aware of the company your teenager keeps, you would have your antennas up. I am often surprised that most parents do not know much about their teenagers. They seem to live in two different worlds, it is time to connect.
Depression in Teens - Parenting Teenagers
Establish communication with your teenagers. It is easier than you think, talk about their kind of music, or their favorite sport or hobby or what ever keeps their attention and you will soon establish workable lines of communication. Build your teenagers self-esteem and confidence. Give them hope, speak positively and tell them they can achieve what they want,in short be their inspiration. Tell you teenager of your struggles and achievement and you would have found some willingness from your teenager to trust in your understanding and compassion as a parent.
Be positive, be the inspiration. Most parents I see are hinged on the negative than the positive. The complain all day long, don’t take me wrong, but do a Google search and you will find more material on rebellious teens, violent teen, problem teens and the like. They cater to the growing searches of parents who are using such negative words to describe their teenagers. As teenagers sense their parents negative attitude, they would even refuse to trust that you can help. It is important to watch what you are saying and what your body language is speaking to your teenager. Winning their trust is the most important step in helping your teenager with depression. The ‘I said so’, ‘I warned you earlier’ and lectures can wait. It is important to reach out to your teenager in depression.
Expect denial. When you ask your teenager about his/her behaviour, be ready to accept denial. it is a great mask. Persist, show genuine concern and love and you would have won your teenager over to your side forever. I have found that working with tweens and teenagers is the most rewarding, once you reach out to them in their need, you are sure to have won their respect and loyalty for a long time to come. Try it, I am not only talking from the point of view of a professional, but also as a parent and a mentor for a number of groups of teenagers.
Listen, and listen again. In one of my more popular articles (with teenagers) Top ten problem of teenagers I have teenagers telling me (read their comments) that their parents never listen, they do not understand, they always assume that they know. All that your teenagers expects from you, is a patient, not judgemental listening. When you listen to them, they know that you value their opinion and thoughts, you consider them to be reasonable and people in their own right.
Empathize and validate their feelings. Yes, it is tempting to tell them to get out of it, you need to do that sometime, but first you have to meet them at their point of need. Gradually you can talk them out of it or into taking help. Sometimes professional help may be the only answer, please do not wait for the worst to happen, act now if you intuition/gut feeling as a parent tells you something is wrong. Putting it off may cost you dearly. Antidepressants are not your answer, try other forms of therapy. I would raise a whole lot of controversy here, saying this, but that is not my intention, the well-being of your teenager is.
Teens with depression
Finally, I would like to say, not all teenagers are rebellious by nature. Take time to consider that all actions have an equal and opposite reaction. We could make mistakes as human being and parenting teenagers is no cakewalk, let the past be, take time to see your teenager as they need to be seen - young men and women in their own right. If you have a teenager who is depressed or know of one, pass this on, take help quickly and hope all will be well with you, my reader. Thank you for staying with me to hear me out fully.