Parenting Teens - Teens and Depression

One minute your teenager will be laughing and joking along with you and the next he is in a fit of rage, yelling or crying with no warning or apparent cause. Mood swings are normal with all teenagers, but how do you know when mood swings turn into depression?


Teenagers have so much to deal with in today’s society that depression can come easily. If left untreated, it can become a much more serious issue. With pressure at school, family situations, and the necessity of making serious life choices at a young age, depression may make such a sudden impact even the teenager may not know that he or she is suffering with this disorder.


Depression in teenagers is often overlooked, and is rarely treated or even diagnosed.  Many parents tend to view their teenager’s bad mood as just another teenage trait. 


Teenage Mood Swings vs. Depression


Most teenagers suffering with depression will almost constantly be upset, not just with their parents, but also with siblings and even friends. Their grades may drop and their social life may cease suddenly and unexpectedly.  Your teenager may make excuses to stay in his room and not participate in social activities, and even when forced to participate, may do so with little or no enthusiasm. 


Sometimes, this disorder may actually be a chemical imbalance and uncontrollable with just words and care from the parent.  Medications and therapy may be required for your teenager to regain their mental health back. Depression is such a serious disorder that can lead up to even more serious situations like school or home violence, self injury, even suicide. 


What parents can do


If your teenager seems unhappy or upset for a long period of time, try to have a talk with him. Begin the conversation casually by mentioning that you can see that something is troubling him. Don’t be discouraged by your teen’s likely response that you cannot help or there’s noting you can do. Point out that sometimes just talking about a situation will help to find a solution or to see it from a different perspective.


If your teenager will not talk to you about her problems speak with her school guidance counselor. He or she might be able to give you helpful information about what is troubling your teen. The guidance counselor might also be able to help you assess if it would be beneficial to your teenager to see a professional therapist or to attend a group counseling session.


Should you decide that therapy is necessary, do not force your teen to attend any of these sessions. Instead, ask him to attend if only to see that his particular problem might not be as unique as he thinks. Your teenager might experience great relief in realizing that he is simply going through natural developmental stages and that it is normal to feel overwhelmed by the pressures of school, family and peers.


Instead of breaking under the stress and thinking he is not capable of handling his daily life, your teenager will approach obstacles more open minded and ready to discuss with you or his therapist.


Christina Botto has been involved with helping parents and teenagers resolve complicated issues for more than 14 years, observing and developing parenting strategies. Her dedication to helping parents inspired her to write her book, ‘Help Me With My Teenager! A Step-by-step Guide for Parents that Works.’


Christina continues to help parents and their teens through her website, where parents can find her book, news for Education K-12 and College, LIVE Counseling, and a variety of other tools and resources for both communicating with their teen and helping parents deal with issues they are struggling with.


Articles are free to be reprinted as long as the author’s bio and live link to her Web site remain intact.

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