A new report shows that 1 in 9 adolescents aged 12-17 years have experienced major depression.
There’s a lot of turmoil and uncertainty in the teenage years so it’s not always easy to differentiate between depression and normal growing pains. Know that depression isn’t run of the mill moodiness.
There’s no single cause of adolescent depression; multiple factors could lead to depression. Possible causes include structural differences in the
brain, traumatic early life events, inherited traits, and learned patterns of negative thinking.
To be officially diagnosed with major depressive disorder a teen must involve at least five of the following symptoms:
- agitation or psychomotor retardation noticed by others
- a depressed mood most of the day
- a diminished ability to think or concentrate
- a diminished interest in most or all activities
- feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
- insomnia or excessive sleeping
- recurring thoughts of death
- significant unintentional weight loss or gain
As a parent, your child’s pain is one of the most difficult things to deal with. If your child has depression, you may feel scared, helpless, and confused, but you can help them. Do not attribute blame for the disease to yourself, your child, or anyone else. Depression is a disease, so treat it as such. A majority of the time, depression can be successfully treated, so stay calm and supportive and know that your child has a very good chance of recovering.
Adolescents face the same mental illness stigma that adults do and may be feeling confused, shameful, or angry about their diagnosis. Educate yourself about depression and treatment options fully so you can answer their questions and have an informed conversation with them. While conversation is the last thing your child may want to do, talk with them frequently in low-stress opportunities like cooking dinner together or taking a walk. Stay patient and supportive. The situation may not improve over night, but recovery is possible for your child, especially with a supportive parent in their corner.
Is your child living with depression? Contact Segal Institute at 1-877-SEGAL-88 to see if they may qualify for a clinical research study OR sign up below to see if you qualify!