Helping Teens through Depression
Approximately 2.6 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression. Unfortunately, many of these youth do not receive mental health treatment. Children experiencing anxiety or depression are more likely to have another mental, behavioral or developmental disorder, chronic health conditions, problems in school and unmet medical or mental health needs.
“Occasional feelings of sadness and hopelessness are common in teenagers,” said Alishia Williams, child outpatient therapist at Memorial Behavioral Health. “Parents should create a welcoming environment for their children to speak with them about their mental health and, if needed, seek out the help of a pediatrician and behavioral health provider.”
Williams added that parents can take extra steps to ensure that their teenage children feel comfortable expressing their feelings.
“Teenagers are at a point in their lives when they are building their own identity and striving for independence,” she said. “It’s common for them to turn to friends more than parents to deal with stressors. Listening to show support and empathy without judgement is important to establish yourself as a safe person to talk to.”
While occasional feelings of sadness are common, when a teenager is no longer enjoying things they used to enjoy and is unable to cope because of persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, they could be experiencing depression.
Some examples of behaviors in depressed youth from the CDC include:
- Feeling sad, hopeless or irritable a lot of the time
- Not wanting to do or enjoy doing fun things
- Changes in eating patterns – eating a lot more or a lot less than usual
- Changes in sleep patterns – sleeping a lot more or a lot less than normal
- Changes in energy – being tired and sluggish or tense and restless a lot of the time
- Having a hard time paying attention
- Feeling worthless, useless or guilty
- Self-injury and self-destructive behavior
The best way to treatment anxiety or depression is to get an evaluation from your primary care provider and a request a referral to a behavioral health provider.
If untreated, extreme depression can lead to suicide or suicide planning. If a youth has a plan for suicide, they need emergency behavioral health treatment. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) is available any day at all hours at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call 9-1-1 in an emergency.
Contact Memorial Behavioral Health to learn more about outpatient mental health treatment for all ages.