Get Help for Your Teen’s Depression
Is Your Teen More Irritable Than Usual? Are you Worried About Your Teen’s Mood?
It can be difficult to know if your teen is struggling with depression or going through teenage angst. Teens are coping with hormonal and physical changes which can impact mood fluctuations not to mention the stresses of peer relationships. Teen depression is more serious however and impacts 20% of teenagers.
As a parent it can be hard to watch your teen struggle and frustrating to not know how to help or even what to do to bring peace at home. There are some signals to help you recognize that your teen needs help. It can also be critical to get help for teen depression early on before things become destructive.
How to Recognize if Your Teen Needs Help for Depression
The teenage years are times of insecurity and change as teens struggle to build their own
identity separate from their parents. This is a typical aspect of teenager development. Teens may also emphasize peer relationships more, test the limits with boundaries and act out from time to time. However, these changes are typically balanced with other signs of emotional health such as positive friendships, success in school or activities.
Depression may show up as irritability, consistent high reactivity or sad mood, high sensitivity to rejection, failure and perceived criticism, consistent complaints of physical aches and pains, withdrawing from friends, major changes in sleeping and eating patterns, extreme sensitivity to criticism, no longer interested in activities previously enjoyed, self-injury and persistent low energy. Teen depression can also be associated with an eating disorder. If you teen has thoughts of death or suicide, it’s important to seek help right away. This could indicate a very serious situation and it’s important that your teen is evaluated by a professional.
The key here is that the symptoms are persistent over time. Destructive behaviors can be another sign as well as struggling in a particular area of life such as school or friends. It can also be critical to seek help during times of major change even if your teen isn’t showing obvious signs of teen depression. This can help prevent issues from becoming worse. Major changes that can be quite disruptive to a teen include death in the family, divorce, moving or changing schools, or illness in the family.
It can be difficult for teens to open up and talk about what they’re experiencing either because they don’t really understand or know how to express it or they feel shamed or fear being misunderstood. Don’t force the issue. Rather, let your teen know that you care and are concerned and trust your instincts. Offer support without overly questioning them as this may push them further away.
Counseling for Teens Can Offer Support for Parents as Well
It can be challenging to know what to do when your teen is struggling with depression. Getting your child help for depression early on can benefit the family as a whole. Not only can it help problems from becoming worse, counseling can help increase communication strategies among family members and provide guidance to parents on how to cope and set appropriate boundaries. Parents often feel frustrated and walk a fine line between offering support and maintaining expectations and limits.
Parent coaching can give you the tools you need to effectively communicate and use creative strategies to help your teen succeed. Working together as a team, the therapist, teen and parents devise a plan to ensure success and minimize confusion and powerless feelings. Parent coaching can also help you cope with the changes that surface as your teen matures and develops a sense of their own independence. You may experience sadness, anxiety or fear as you go through these changes with your teen. You may even benefit from counseling to help you adjust to a new role in your life as your teen approaches graduation.
Get Help for Your Teen
The first step to helping your teen is to start a conversation. Be open to listening and validate feelings expressed vs. offering advice. You may feel shut out, but be persistent and supportive and continue to express your concern. Your teen may not want to go to counseling or perceive it as a “punishment”. You can let your teen know that while they may need to get help for teen depression (not a choice), the choice of who they speak with is up to them. The therapist selected will want to make sure that there is a good fit. Our therapists who work with teens are skilled and experienced in teen counseling and parent training and offer a compassionate and supportive approach combined with practical strategies and solutions.
While medication may be beneficial, it’s important that your teen have the opportunity to process their feelings through counseling. In many cases, this may be sufficient in helping your teen resolve their depression. Plus, it provides your teen with greater awareness of themselves and coping tools and resources to handle stressful situations that come up later.
Group Therapy for Teens
We also offer a DBT Skills Group for teens ages 14-19. DBT therapy is a skills-based approach that teaches cognitive techniques to help your teen make healthy and effective choices to create a life they will love and be proud of. DBT therapy can be a very effective treatment for depression and many other challenges teens face.
We also offer group therapy for adolescent girls ages 12-15. We find that group therapy, particularly for adolescents, can be an excellent way to learn social skills and manage the transition to adolescence through support and connection with others.
We’re here to help you understand how to support your teen as well as help you teen heal. Talk to us about your questions and concerns.