Teens at Muir Wood enjoy game night

Signs of Depression

It is estimated that about one in five teens will experience issues with depression and that about 11 percent of young people will develop a depressive disorder before the age of 18, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Many will increase their issues with depression by abusing alcohol, marijuana and other drugs.

Too often, parents see the signs of depression in their teen and think that it’s just a phase brought on by hormones. They often fail to act, believing that it will simply pass on its own. If your son is struggling with depression, treatment is a recommended and effective option for recovery.

Recognizing Teen Depression Symptoms

Parents are encouraged to pay attention to the changes that their child experiences in the teen years and notice when and if the following signs of depression become an issue:

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  • Angry outbursts
  • Unable to handle criticism
  • Chronic physical ailments like headache, gastrointestinal issues and fatigue
  • Isolation from others
  • Feeling down more often than not
  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Difficulty with concentration
  • Difficulty with decision-making
  • Reckless behavior
  • Loss of academic performance
  • Substance abuse

If any of the symptoms above last more than a couple of weeks, it may be time to seek professional help.

Marijuana and Depression

Teen depression – and the risk of developing the disorder – increases when that teenager uses marijuana, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Current symptoms can worsen even though many teens use the drug in an attempt to make themselves feel better. Teens who abuse marijuana regularly may be more likely to:

  • Feel hopeless
  • Lose interest in their normal hobbies
  • Drop off academically
  • Find it difficult to cope with stressors

Likewise, abuse of alcohol and other drugs can have the same effect on teen depression and the experience of symptoms.

Risks of Teen Depression

There is no one specific cause for depressive disorders, but there are a number of issues that may increase your teen’s risk of developing symptoms of depression.

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These can include:

  • Genetic predisposition, especially if a parent or sibling is diagnosed with the disorder
  • Stressful events like divorcing parents, loss of a loved one, bullying, etc.
  • Low self-esteem
  • Social awkwardness
  • Chronic illness
  • Learning disabilities
  • Other chronic issues like an eating disorder, bipolar disorder, ADHD, anxiety, etc.

Co-Occurring Disorders

When both a mental health disorder, like depression, and substance abuse are issues for a teenager, the result can be dangerous. Some common issues that can develop include:

  • Increased risk for developing schizophrenia
  • Symptoms of anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts and/or attempts
  • Addiction

When drug and alcohol abuse and depression are both a significant issue for your son, it is imperative that you opt for a treatment program that offers intensive treatment for both disorders simultaneously. Because the symptoms, triggers and effects of the two are inextricably intertwined, any program that attempts to isolate one disorder for treatment will be ineffective.

Effective Treatment for Teens With Depression

There are a number of options that can be effective in the treatment of depression in teens. According to the US National Library of Medicine, these can include talk therapy and/or antidepressant medications. There are a number of options in both types of treatment, and it is important that parents take an active role in determining what will be most effective for their child.

For example, some types of talk therapy that are effective for the treatment of teen depression include family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and group therapy. In most cases, treatment will be heavily focused on therapeutic growth; medication is often reserved for the most serious cases.

Learn more about how depression treatment can help your son heal when you contact us today at Muir Wood. We’re here to help.