Editor’s Note: It’s not unusual for young people to get “down in the dumps” or experience “the blues” occasionally. Most of the time when teens encounter challenging situations, they can lean on friends and family members for help. Sometimes, however, their problems become too complicated or overwhelming and they may need the guidance of a professional. This article by Melissa Cain offers some good advice on signs to watch for and tips on what to do in such situations.
Watching your teenager suffer through depression can be devastating for your entire family. What are some of the causes to watch out for, and what are some of the tips you can use to help your teen? Read on to find out more about both.
Causes: A Condition
Sometimes, depression isn’t really caused by anything other than a certain imbalance of chemicals in the brain. No matter what type of events come into your teenager’s life, he or she always seems to feel depressed about them. You notice that your teenager tends to look at the negative side of life, and you will need to meet with a psychiatrist, psychologist, minister, or other type of counselor to work on dealing with the problem.
Causes: Teenage Life
The teenage years certainly bring a new set of challenges and obstacles to any young person. Everyone is asking what he or she wants to do in life and if any career goals have yet been set. On top of that, peer pressure starts to set in and may play a huge role in your teenager’s reality. Instead of having friends who want to hang out at the playground, your teenager might have friends who are trying to push drugs and/or alcohol on him or her. Dealing with all of these stressors can easily lead to depression.
Tips: Confront It
Depression can sometimes be fleeting, but it can also be a serious condition. Never just assume that your teenager is going through a phase. Don’t panic either, but keep an eye on it. Depression can cause people to hurt themselves or even to kill themselves, so you need to start having open and honest conversations with your teenager about the problem. If you are not sure where to start or what to do, consider calling a pastoral counselor at your local church. This person will likely be able to guide you down the right path and to provide some resources that will help your teenager in both the short-term and the long-term.
While your teenager is probably trying to exercise his or her own freedom, this is not the time to lose control of the situation. Even if things get better, it’s important to keep an eye on things – periodically ask how they’re doing. Watch out for risk factors. Speaking to a professional counselor can be an extremely valuable tool here. You don’t want to make the condition worse by constantly following your teenager around, but you do want to know what your child is doing, feeling, and experiencing.
Ultimately, professional therapy may be necessary for your teenager to overcome this difficult problem. Part of helping your teenager is to understand some of the causes for depression and the reasons this problem manifested. The other part of the equation is to make sure your teenagers always know that you are there for them – then, no matter how bad things get, you are at least being the best parent you can be.
Melissa Cain writes about parenting, mental health and education at BestEducationDegrees.com.