One of four teens will suffer a bout of major depression, the age of 14 being the most common age of onset. About 10 -15% of children/teens are depressed at any one time so this is a considerable mental health problem. Given that suicide is the third leading cause of death for 12 – 21 year olds, we need to better understand what it looks like and get it treated.
So, how do you know if your teen is truly depressed or just going through the normal moody states that mark a teenagers period in life?
- Low self-esteem
- Loss of a loved one
- Family conflicts
- Problems with friends or peers (being bullied or participating in risky behavior)
- Chronic illness
- Teens who have a family history of depression
Here are the warning signs of teen depression:
- Changes in a teen’s eating pattern, either increased or decreased
- Changes in a teen’s sleeping pattern, difficulty sleeping at night or not getting out of bed
- Drug or alcohol abuse, including regular use of cigarettes or marijuana
- Restlessness and agitation
- Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
- A profound sense of hopelessness, guilt or unhappiness
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Tearfulness or frequent crying
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Decline in school performance
- Withdrawal from or a change of friends
- Withdrawal from family and regular activities
- Lack of interest in the future
- Dramatic change in personality or behavior: extreme moodiness or irritability
- Prone to angry outburst which can get violent
- Easily frustrated
- Grumpy and hostile
If you think your teen is depression here are 5 things to do about it:
- Share your concerns with your teen based on what you have noticed as signs of depression. Ask your teen what s/he feels is causing these signs. You may find they have an explanation. Most important you are letting your teen know that you care and can help them.
- Check your teen’s family medical history to know if there is any clinical depression or other mood disorders that could affect your teen.
- Make an appointment with your teen’s medical doctor to rule out any physiological reason for your teen to show symptoms of depression.
- Make an appointment with someone who understands how to work with teens emotional issues.
- Keep this to yourself as a show of respect to your teen’s privacy.
One of the wonderful things about working with teens as a hypnotist is that the paradigm works well for them.
- Teens, naturally being in a state of hypnosis all the time, make it a quick and easy method for them to use.
- Teens are naturally curious and therefore willing to try working in this manner.
- Hypnotist are utterly uninterested in having the teen tell their story of woe repeatedly.
- We only work on what the teen chooses to work on respecting their wishes.
- We let the teen know that s/he has their own answers inside themselves and our only job is to help them to access that information so that they can easily clear it.
- This puts the teen in control of their own treatment.
- Though we can be serious if necessary, hypnotic technique is usually fun and refreshing for the teen.
- Hypnosis being a state of relaxation, helps the teen feel better after each session.
I have worked with many teens over the years who have been depressed and many times it has nothing to do with clinical depression. It has to do with their interpretation of events that happened when they were very young and unable to reason, rationalize or judge the situation not having mentally matured to have those abilities at the time of the event. I have also had teens who were very upset about losses in their lives, and found in two sessions they were able to easily grieve the losses and move on with their lives. Given that antidepressants can cause both suicidal thoughts and psychotic events in teens, I would suggest you work from the most benign methods of treatment to the more invasive in your treatment planning.
What is more natural then letting your teen use their own mind to reframe their thoughts gaining new and more useful perceptions to regain their youthful glow and enjoyment of life? There is usually no need for years of therapy or any medication needed for most teens who have these problems. What they need is to be understood and to understand what is at the root cause of their problem allowing them to heal it and move on with their lives being their usual joyful curious selves.