Teen Depression Signs & Therapeutic Intervention
For many parents it can be difficult to tell the difference between the typical ups and downs of teenage life and depression. Today’s teenagers are under surmounting stress, while also struggling to navigate the developmental stage between childhood and adulthood. School stressors, interpersonal challenges, difficult events, and life transitions may prompt or increase your teen’s feelings of sadness. Biological chemistry, imbalanced hormones, poor self-esteem, and learned patterns of negative thinking may also contribute to depression. Feelings of depression and sadness can arise following difficult events such as the death of a loved one, trauma, or a major life transition such as moving, divorce of parents, or switching schools. Depression can also occur for seemingly no reason at all, but teens can present with feelings sadness, loneliness, and helplessness, making it difficult for them to function or interact with others. If feelings of sadness begin to inhibit the teen from everyday activities, or self-harming behavior is occurring, we suggest seeking professional help.
Parents often notice emotional and behavioral changes, symptoms such as reported feelings of hopelessness and sadness, along with disrupted sleep, change in eating patterns, suicidal thoughts and/or actions, substance use, and loss of interest in activities, and isolation. In teens, these symptoms can affect performance in school, extracurricular activities, and relationships with family and friends. One of the biggest warning signs on teenage depression is a decline in school performance, isolation, and self-harming behaviors.
Depression does not often decrease without therapeutic or medication intervention, and may increase in severity if left untreated. Secondary issues may also arise from untreated depression, including alcohol and drug abuse, academic problems, truancy, family and relationship conflicts, self-harm, and suicidal behavior. Finding help your child help is the first, and most important step.
According to research, the most effective therapeutic treatment for depression is evidence-based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT can help teens work through their depression; change unhelpful thought patterns and learn new ways of coping with difficult emotions. Mediation may also be used in conjunction with therapy; it is very important to discuss the risks and benefits of antidepressants with a medical doctor or psychiatrist.
At GroundWork Counseling, our trained cognitive behavioral therapists utilize CBT to help teenagers suffering from depression. The focus of CBT treatment for depression is to identify unhelpful and irrational patterns of thinking and behaving, teaching the client to identify these unhelpful thoughts, and learning to replace these thoughts with alternatives that are more appropriate, while also increasing clients ability to cope with difficult emotions.
*If your teen is a risk to themselves, please take your teen to the nearest emergency room or call 911.