Depression (major depressive disorder) is a serious but treatable medical illness that affects the way a person feels, thinks, and acts. Depression affects 1 in 15 adults in any given year, and 1 in 6 will experience depression in their lifetime.
It is not unusual for teens to feel some ups and downs while they experience the frequent changes of adolescence. Social, emotional, and physical changes can all affect a teen’s mood, and they often react strongly to life’s challenges. However, sometimes a teenager’s negative feelings can be more than a temporary issue.
A teen can become clinically depressed for a couple of reasons. Some studies show they may have too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Genetics can also play a role if someone in their family has suffered from depression. Major life events such as death and divorce can also be a factor, as well as negative thought patterns and low self-esteem.
Depression in Teens and the Warning Signs
Depression in teens is very serious because of the heightened emotions and negative thought patterns they often have. Every year, 5,000 teens decide to end their lives. The suicide rate is high because teens often try to stop a temporary feeling with a permanent action. They haven’t developed an adult’s perspective on the temporary nature of life’s challenges.
Depression in teens can be hard to diagnose because they can often be moody and not as forthcoming with their feelings as adults. If the following symptoms last for more than two weeks, it may mean that a teen is suffering from depression:
- Withdrawal from friends and activities.
- Decreasing grades and poor performance in school.
- Prolonged sadness or hopelessness.
- Lack of energy and extreme fatigue.
- Overreaction to criticism.
- Poor self-esteem.
- Lack of concentration or forgetfulness.
- Changes in eating and sleeping patterns.
- Substance abuse.
- Problems with authority.
- Suicidal thoughts or actions.
If your teenage son or daughter is suffering from depression, it can be heartbreaking to watch them suffer. It is understandable to feel afraid, sad, and unsure of what to do. You may have tried to help in a hundred different ways, or maybe you don’t know where to begin. Either way, there is hope.
How to Help Heal Depression in Teens
A teen suffering from depression can get help in a few ways. Both psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy can provide teens a safe place to explore their feelings with a licensed professional. They learn coping skills, positive thought patterns, and behavioral changes that may alleviate their depression. For some teens, medication may be prescribed.
It is not uncommon for a depressed teen may refuse to go to therapy or protest a medication, and when that happens it is important to seek further professional help. At Pacific Quest, we understand the feelings of helplessness that a parent may have when their teen is depressed. You care so deeply for your child, and just want them to feel better.
At Pacific Quest, we also understand the healing power of nature. Located on the Big Island in Hawaii, we believe in gardening, being outdoors, and developing a positive relationship with nature. Our innovative Sustainable Growth model incorporates whole person wellness, individualized clinical care, rites of passage, horticultural therapy, and community living. We have found that being outside, gardening, community engagement, and healthy diet and exercise habits can dramatically improve a young person’s self-esteem and mood.
Horticultural therapy and other holistic aspects of our approach are especially beneficial for teens suffering from depression. When they come to us, they may feel detached and sensitive to their surroundings. Other programs can be traumatizing and insensitive to their needs, but at Pacific Quest our approach is different. We slowly integrate the emotionally beneficial aspects of nature, an anti-inflammatory diet, healthy sleep patterns, exercise, and more to make change in a kind and gentle way.
And while we focus on the amazing therapeutic benefits of nature, we also believe in clinical therapy. That’s why we have an individualized and integrative clinical practice model to achieve lasting and sustainable growth. Every teen that comes to Pacific Quest is assigned an experienced Primary Therapist who provides them with individual, group, and family therapy. The highly-trained, doctoral-levels clinicians at Pacific Quest give each teen a personalized treatment method and focus on their individual needs.
Depression in teens is as serious as it is common. It is an incredibly challenging time of life for some, and depression can make it feel almost unbearable. If your teenager is suffering from depression, it is imperative to act now.