There are several types of depression that are diagnosed by health care providers. Types of depression are determined by the duration of the symptoms and the severity of the symptoms. Depression in teens may look different than depression in adults, so it may be harder to discover. There appears to be a common thread in the disorders with teens. Teenagers are generally hiding their emotions and feelings and so they express these emotions through behavior. When your teenagers behavior has changed from communicative to no communication, from respectful to disrespect, from normal opposition to loss of judgment from being OK with the family to little or no involvement, a drastic change in clothing, friends, grades and/or attendance these are all signs of a disorder. Discovering which disorder it is can be the tricky part.
Some symptoms of depression are:
Sad or low mood, sleeping more or less than usual, eating more or less than usual, loss of interest in normal activities, irritability, aggression and hostility can also be signs of depression.
Some flags or warning signs for parents to look for: anger outbursts and explosiveness, running away, substance or alcohol abuse, isolating from family and friends, withdrawn, anxious or nervous, lack of eye contact, wearing dark clothing or a change in clothing style, hair in the face, hygiene is deteriorating, hyper-sensitive.
Some of the behaviors you may see are: self harming like cutting or burning skin, suicidal thoughts, threats, or attempts, new group of peers or maybe losing friends, school performance is declining or trouble even going to school, spending an abundant amount of time in their room; using internet or texting, easily angered and defensiveness, running away, staying out or not coming home, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, disengaged in activities they use to do.
Types of medication to ask your Dr. about: Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Effexor, Luvox, Prozac are among a few of the anti-depressant medications available. Generally medication will ease the symptoms but they will not cure the issue. Talk to your health care provider to see which medication will work the best.
When do you intervene and what does the intervention process look like: parents need to begin intervening when you begin to notice grades falling, or your child isolating and avoiding family and friends. When they don't make eye contact or the eye contact has changed from how they were making eye contact. If they have changed their appearance like clothing or hair covering their face and eyes, or you notice a change in hygiene. If there is any changes in sleeping and eating patterns. If they are more defensive than normal or their anger has turned into tantrums. Interventions from parents can be anything from sitting down and talking one on one in a very clam manner. Letting your child know you are worried about them and ask them to tell you what is going on so you can help them is the best approach. If this is unsuccessful you may need to do something more severe like; getting them to a outdoor program for 45 - 60 days, or a short term residential program where they can learn to cope with their problems. Parents' may also try going to the family doctor to see if they will talk to them or a therapist, the most important thing is to get them talking.
What will insurance pay for: You will need to check with your health insurance for coverage but most insurance have some type of mental health benefit and drug and alcohol benefit. Insurances are very picky about what they cover. Generally, they will cover for Depression or a Mood Disorder. They will give so much percent to Individual Therapy and Group Therapy on an outpatient basis. If your teenager needs long term treatment you will need to jump through the hoops of your insurance carrier for them to help pay for a residential facility. They like to see that you have tried outpatient therapy first before jumping right into long term treatment. Insurance companies will not pay for an outdoor or wilderness program. There are instances where you can submit to your insurance the individual and group therapy your teenager receives in the wilderness/outdoor program you can also submit the same for a residential stay.
Who can you go to for help: Some schools and school counselors may be able to provide information to help your teen. You may also go to your local community mental health center, or your religions clergy. You may also find a family therapist or counselor that specializes in teens.