Writing off depression as a phase that teenagers go through can be very damaging in seriously depressed teens. Left untreated, it could become a chronic problem that continues into adulthood. When problematic behavior occurs, it may or may not be a teenage depression symptom, but it will need to be handled.
- Talk to your teen first: Teenagers tend not to share their lives with their parents as much as when they were children and depressed teens will be even more reluctant. Setting aside a time to talk to your teen in an affectionate, non-confrontational manner is important. Refrain from suggesting depression; instead mention the behavioral changes you have noticed and explain why it is worrying for you. Listen to their answers without judgment or without trying to offer advice. This may be easier said than done, since teenagers, especially depressed teens, do not like to be questioned or to share their lives with parents. However, it is important you let them know you are there for them and will try to support them as much as possible.
- Avoid giving advice or counseling: When a teen talks about teenage depression symptoms, acknowledge their feelings. Trying to talk them out of it or make them look on the brighter side is not likely to work, and will make them feel you are treating them like children. Acknowledging their confusion or pain, encouraging them to talk and refraining from offering advice is most helpful, and will ensure that the depressed teen feels safe and comfortable.
- Getting medical help: When depressed teens deny symptoms or cannot explain his or her strange behavior, it is often safer to talk to a medical expert. Without qualified diagnosis, depression in adolescents can become serious and could cause harm to the teenager or to others around. Visiting a family doctor and talking about the teenage depression symptoms, the health of the teenager, and any family history of depression can help. When the doctor conducts the examination, he or she will test for signs of depression.
- Further medical help: A family doctor can either recommend a psychologist or psychiatrist if there are no health issues that are causing the teenage depression symptoms. Talking to a mental health expert who specializes in treating children and teenagers is likely to help. Make sure you listen to your child’s opinion about the expert. If the child is not comfortable talking to the expert, the visits are not likely to help.
- Medication: Medication of depressed teens should be only undertaken on professional advice after other methods have been tried. Discuss the side effects of medication on a teenage body and opt for the one that best suits your child’s needs. Medication may give immediate relief from teenage depression symptoms but the damage may be long-lasting.