Mental health problems are becoming more prevalent in teenagers. It is currently estimated that around three percent of teens in America will suffer from depression at some point and shockingly this figure is rising. Here are some things to look out for.
As any parents know, teenagers can be prone to moods. Therefore, if your teenage son or daughter goes through a period of seeming very down it is not necessarily cause to worry. But if they seem very depressed for several weeks or they show several of the following symptoms, then it could be time to consult a doctor.
These are some of the signs that your teenager might have depression:
* Persistent low mood, lasting for several weeks or months.
* Wanting to sleep more than is usual for them
* Difficult sleeping
* Refusing meals and loss of appetite
* Withdrawal from family and social activities
* Loss of interest in old hobbies
* Problems at school
Not every depressed teen will show all of the above symptoms. Avoiding social situations and a noticeable drop in the quality of school work are common, but the rest of the symptoms can come and go, or never manifest at all.
Parents of a depressed teenager should also be aware that the mood disorder greatly raises the risk of taking part in substance abuse. Children over the age of 13 are over 50 percent more likely to turn to alcohol or drug abuse if they are depressed. This can make treatment of the disorder much more difficult, as there are two problems to tackle.
It may reassure parents to know that suicide – or attempted suicide – is relatively rare among depressed teens. Where it does occur, it is normally the result of an impulsive act. Girls are far more likely than boys to attempt suicide, but it is more commonly a cry for help than a serious wish to die, and survival rates are high. Boys are less likely to attempt to kill themselves, but when suicide is attempted they are more likely to be successful.
Any teen can become depressed, but it is more likely if they have a difficult home life. This could be a result of an alcoholic or violent parent. Abused teens will often develop mental health problems. They are also at greater risk of depression themselves, if a close family member has depression.
Family tendency towards to mental health disorders raises the risk in two ways. Firstly, there is a genetic susceptibility to illnesses such as depression. But also a depressed parent will struggle to provide a normal home environment for their child. A teen can develop problems because a depressed parent was ill equipped to deal with the needs of a young child, which could also have made the bonding process more difficult.
Depression in teenagers is treatable. The first step is recognizing that there is a problem. After this, the family doctor can provide help and advice on how to proceed. Most teens are able to overcome their depression with the right support.