Depression is a mental health disorder that can have a serious effect on a person's life. Although it can affect people of all ages, it can be especially tough for a teenager to deal with. While it's normal for a teen to act out or be moody at times, depression is different and isn't something to be shrugged off. Untreated depression can lead to the increased possibility of risky behavior, including alcohol or drug abuse, and even suicide.
In the United States, approximately 20% of teens will experience some form of depression before they reach the age of 18, but it's important to know that depression is a very treatable disorder. Through awareness and education, teens will be more likely to receive the proper treatment. One of the ways to bring about greater awareness is by debunking the myths commonly associated with depression.
Myth: Teens don't really get depressed. It's just hormones or moodiness.
While it's true that bouts of sadness or occasional moodiness can be part of the teen years, these moods usually pass quickly. But when feelings of intense sadness linger for several weeks, it may be a sign of clinical depression. Some other signs of clinical depression include:
- A loss of interest in things they normally enjoy
- Persistent sadness, frequent bouts of crying or tearfulness
- Lack of interest in personal hygiene
- Changes in appetite (either overeating or lack of appetite)
- Changes in sleep patterns, either oversleeping or insomnia
- Frequent irritation or bursts of anger
- Acting out, such as getting into trouble at school
- Alcohol or drug use
Myth: Teens who get depressed are only making excuses. They just need to toughen up and pull themselves together.
This type of thinking will only make the depression worse. Depression is not a sign of weakness; it's a very real and treatable disorder.
Myth: Talking about depression will only make it worse.
Talking with a trained therapist will help them find positive ways to deal with their emotions, work on coping and communication skills, and develop better ways to handle relationships. If it's necessary, medication may be prescribed by a physician to help them cope. Whether it's therapy, or a combination of therapy and medication, teens can find relief from depression and get their lives back.
If you feel your teen is experiencing depression, let them know that help is available and that you are there to support them. With proper help and attention, things can get better.