I Think My Teen Is Depressed: What Should I Do?

Teen depression affects more adolescents than parents may think, but it's not always easy to recognize. The important thing to understand is that leaving depression untreated in young people could result in serious problems with substance abuse, other mood disorders, and medical problems. Parents who suspect their teens are experiencing mental health problems should have their teens checked by a healthcare professional. Only doctors or mental health professionals can diagnose teen depression and treat the underlying causes or symptoms.

PolarisTeen residential treatment centers provide a safe space for adolescents to recover, grow, and heal. The clinically trained staff takes a whole-person approach to create tailored treatment plans that will have long-term impacts. The center treats adolescent mental health and co-occurring disorders like major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, serious psychological distress, and gender dysphoria as well as secondary disorders like substance use disorders and eating disorders. A look at adolescent mental health statistics 2019 shows that young adults are in need of mental health services at an alarming rate. Polaris can provide the mental health care that your teen needs to lead a healthy life. Here's a guide that may help you navigate your teen's mental health.


The warning signs and symptoms of teen depression

The symptoms of teen depression are marked by changes in emotions and behaviors, such as:
  • Sporadic feelings of sadness or angry outbursts over little things
  • Loss of interest in hobbies, activities, or friends
  • Low self-esteem accompanied by feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Being hung up on past failures and residual feelings of guilt or shame
  • Reoccurring thoughts of death and dying, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm behaviors
  • Extreme changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite resulting in weight gain or loss
  • Complaints about body aches and headaches
  • Poor academic performance or truancy

The risk factors and causes of teen depression

There are several potential causes and risk factors of teen depression:
  • Brain chemistry: abnormal neurotransmitters cause dysfunctions of nerve receptors and nerve systems, leading to depression
  • Hormones: the changes of hormone levels in adolescents may cause or trigger depressive episodes
  • Inherited traits: adolescents with a family history of depression are more likely to develop depression
  • Early childhood trauma: traumatic childhood events such as abuse or death of a parent can cause the brain to become more susceptible to depression.
  • Identity issues: Many teens who identify as lesbian, gay, queer, bisexual, or transgender often lack a supportive environment
  • Existing mental disorders: struggling with other mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, personality disorder, or an eating disorder can increase the risk of depression


How to help your teenager

Trust your parental instinct and talk to your teen. Focus on listening instead of lecturing or criticizing their emotions. If your teen is hesitant to open up, be gentle yet persistent. Acknowledge your teen's feelings and help them feel understood and supported. Seeking out a counselor can have a significant impact on helping your teen feel hope. No matter who they talk to, the most important thing is that your teen has someone to confide in.
Depression often causes teens to become isolated from friends and family. Encourage social connection by making it a priority to set aside distraction-free time to talk with your teen. Find ways to keep your teen connected to friends by encouraging them to participate in enjoyable activities that speak to their interests. Sign up for volunteer activities with your teen that will give them a sense of purpose and promote bonding.


A great way to remind your teen that things will get better is to gift them a digital photo storage device where they can look back on fond high school memories. Meet ibi photo storage device comes with 1TB of photo storage space to hold up to 100 hours of videos and over 250,000 digital images. ibi collects and backs up photos and videos from your teen's phone, social media, and cloud accounts in a home device. With the ibi mobile app, teens can discreetly share memories from the past year with close friends and family.
Take the mental health needs of your teen seriously. When your teen sees hope for the future and can break free of the stigma of depression, they can begin the journey of overcoming depression. 

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