Understanding Teen Depression
According to recent article on Huffpost (January 14, 2019) author Catherine Pearson stated that a recent study of adolescents and their parents found that among teens who reported that they had thoughts about taking their own life, 50 percent of their parents said that they were unaware of it. Three-quarters said they had no idea that their children had recurrent thoughts about death.
A troubling trend in the world today is that suicide is the second leading cause of Americans ages 10-24, and it continues to rise for reasons that are not entirely clear. It is estimated that two-thirds of adolescents that experience suicidal thoughts don’t get help. And yes, watching for the red flag signs that are indicative of a child in crisis is sometimes difficult to decipher. Parents will read about a tragic suicide of a young person and say, “Gee, that’s a terrible thing. How sad for those families.” But they have what is referred to as the “not my kid” syndrome. Parents need to be alert to the warning signs and risk factors.
Those signs include notable moods swings, talking or writing about suicide, and abusing drugs or alcohol. Having suicidal thoughts does not necessarily mean a person will take their own life but it is a major risk factor for suicide attempt. (The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free, immediate support for people in distress and their loved ones.)
What to do?
- Ask questions, and tough questions sometimes. It can hard but meaningful way to encourage kids to open up.
- Let them know that it is okay not to be okay. Kids are often afraid of disappointing their parents so they don’t talk. Talk to your kids. Let them know that you care.
- Seek the help of a trained professional because it is difficult to be objective with your own child.
- Don’t ignore the distress of your child and write it off as drama or teenage angst.
Identifying Depression in Teens
- Withdrawing from others
- Isolative behavior
- Lack of social support
- Lack of real relationships
- Comparing self to others and falling short
- Dark or cryptic messages on social media
- Feeling like a failure – socially or academically
- Suicidal thoughts