If you think that teen depression will only cause sadness or bad moods in children, you cannot be more wrong. The fact is that this can be a serious issue because it can affect every aspect of the life of the affected teen. Some of the affected teens may take to excessive drinking or drug abuse, some of them may hate themselves and in extreme cases, they may harm themselves or even others. In some of the teenage girls, the issue may lead to pregnancy and in very extreme cases, teen depression may lead to suicides.
The question is how to prevent all these things and more particularly, suicides, from happening. If you are a parent, a teacher, a relative, a friend or a well-wisher, you can certainly help the affected teen. You can help in many ways that may include discussing about the problem and offering support.
The steps involved in preventing such serious effects of teen depression is to understand the problem, know the symptoms and their impact and detect the warning signs that may point to suicidal tendencies in the affected teens.
Understanding the problem
The main issue is that there are a number of misconceptions about teen depression. The first thing you should bear in mind is that many teens know how to balance their moods by being friendly with good people, succeeding in their academic pursuits or in extra-curricular activities or developing themselves as strong personalities. But in the case of teens who do not know how to manage their moods, teen depression may cause sadness or anger. There are a sizeable number of teens who belong to this category.
But the basic notion that teen depression cannot be treated is very much wrong. Unfortunately, unlike adults, teens depend on others to help them out. So, as a parent or a teacher who wants to help, you should learn the signs or symptoms of the problem and offer timely help to the affected teens.
Signs or symptoms of the problem
Unlike earlier times, teens of today face a lot of pressure. They face peer pressure, ridicules if they do not perform adequately, competition in their activities, confusions caused during puberty or during transition from adolescence into adulthood and so on. When they grow up and are on the threshold of adulthood, they try to assert their freedom. But the fact is that they may still be dependent on their parents. When they are not able to get the freedom they are looking for, they feel sad. They become irritable, aggressive and angry.
The main signs or symptoms of teen depression are sadness, hostility and anger, frequent crying, withdrawing from family or friends, losing interest in teenage activities, changes in the eating habits of these teens, abnormal changes in their sleeping habits, restlessness, agitated behaviors, feelings of guilt, lack of motivation or enthusiasm, fatigue, loss of focus and most importantly, thoughts of suicide.
Parents or teachers should find out how long these symptoms or signs have been there and how severe are the signs. These two aspects will confirm to them if the teens are affected by depression or the usual melancholy that occurs occasionally. Long-lasting signs or changes in the moods and behaviors of the teens should indicate that there is a deep-rooted problem.
Teen depression and suicide
Experts opine that if teens talk or discuss frequently about suicides, it may be an attention-grabbing attempt. But at the same time, these talks should be taken seriously because brushing aside such talks or thoughts may be a grave mistake. In fact, those teens who have taken to excessive drinking or drug abuse may have more suicidal tendencies, say the experts. These teens should be closely watched so that they can be prevented from taking the extreme step.
Steps to prevent suicides in young people affected by teen depression
These teens should be constantly encouraged so that they open up soon. This may help parents or teachers to confirm if the problem is teen depression or not.
The teens should know that you care for them and that you are ready to render all help to them. Sometimes, the teens may feel ashamed about their thoughts and so, may hesitate to open up. Proper encouragement alone will help them express their feelings. If they are made to understand that they have been affected by this problem, they may cooperate with you for treating it.
Parents or teachers cannot treat teen depression. They can only detect the signs and speak encouragingly. They should therefore seek professional help for treating their teens and preventing mishaps like suicides from happening. Your teen should ‘connect’ with the professional you choose.
Medications alone will not help
Though the psychologist or psychiatrist may prescribe some medicines, medications alone may not help. Talk therapy, family therapy and other forms of treatments should also be provided along with medicines.
If timely action is taken, parents or teachers may prevent serious mishaps like suicides from happening in teens who have been affected by depression.