Teens and depression have become all too common for families across the world. What you should know is that you are not alone. In the United States, over 20% of teens experience some form of depression (in fact, that number may even be low because most teens don’t seek treatment). And it only continues to rise. What is it, though? What are the signs? And most importantly, how do help your loved one? Understanding depression in teens helps, but that’s just the first step. How to approach your teen and determine the best treatment option is where the hard work happens.
Teens and Depression: Definitions
There’s a lot of confusion about what depression is and a lot of people question if it’s even real. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.” If your teen has been sad, expressing hopelessness, or is irritable for what you consider to be a long time, they may be struggling with depression. You may also notice that they’re fatigued or aren’t interested in executing their daily activities or they have trouble remembering information. Depression is real and triggered by big life transitions and stress and changes in your body (all of which teens are experiencing). Teens and depression are real.
Why Teens and Depression?
But what’s at the heart of this problem? How is depression different between teens and adults? Many people claim teens nowadays are just more fragile than past generations. They say teens simply cannot handle the pressure surrounding their social interactions, grades, relationships, and so on. But they’re not taking into account the pressures that come with being a teen today.
Elements like technology and social media have completely transformed society. On social media, for instance, you have to maintain an identity and keep track of every trend and defend every negative comment said about you. This alone can be exhausting for a teen who is also figuring out their future and how they fit in society. They are, in fact, the first generation that cannot simply “escape.” Everything is documented. Everything follows them. They have to answer to parents and the ever-evolving world in their tiny screens. When you view it from this perspective, teens and depression starts to make sense; the two are basically expected.
Treating Teens with Depression
The different approaches to treating depression in teens. You can sit down and talk to them about it or take them to a therapist where they can talk about their thoughts and feelings. Some doctors may even prescribe anti-depressants. The point is that there are many options and studies have shown that depression does in fact get better with treatment. But what is the right path for you and your teen? Many students come to Pacific Quest because traditional therapy methods have not been successful. In our sensory-rich and dynamic environment, interventions are tailored to meet students where they are and to help them achieve optimal growth.
For example, we use horticultural therapy, which utilizes gardening activities in conjunction with traditional counseling techniques to meet specific therapeutic treatment goals. It seeks to enhance social, cognitive and physiological functioning with the primary goal of improving health and inspiring motivation for change. By placing students in caregiving roles, we are able to create an experiential environment that is both growth-focused and life affirming. The gardens at Pacific Quest offer a living example of what growth looks like, creating a culture where words and actions are matched, leaving students with empowering life skills that are transferable beyond the garden. Each student is also assigned a Primary Therapist who really customizes the experience and makes it wonderfully unique (to fit the specific needs of your teen).
At Pacific Quest, we have a holistic, kind, thoughtful approach. We want to make sure your teen is part of a highly collaborative environment where they can grow like the plants and food they’re taught to plant. We want them to know what it’s like to take care of another living thing but to also feel taken care of and supported. Call or email Pacific Quest today to learn more about teens and depression and how we can help.