“Why fit in when you were born to standout?”-Dr. Suess
DEPRESSION IN TEENS
Depression is a silent predator. Jessica, a shy, studious and kind-hearted girl got caught-up in the shallow world of high school. She judiciously focused on her studies and maintained a steady graph of good grades. Being quite a nerd she was teased a lot though by her friends. But, she tried not to let it get to her head. However, she always sensed that she could never really fit in. She wasn’t as outgoing and “happening” as the other girls in her group, making her feel left out. There came a point when the everyday loud remarks, laughs and taunts started breaking her self esteem. Sadly, her grades started declining, she wouldn’t go to school, she started hating her life. Jessica had lost her spark. She had lost herself.
There are tons of Jessica’s in the world trying to fit in, get a seat with the cool kids or be invited to their parties.
According to the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, twenty percent of teenagers experience depression by the time they reach adulthood. The teenage years are immensely turbulent. However, carefree their life may seem, teens tend to struggle a lot, exhibiting warning signs which may go unnoticed. So distinguishing between depression and mood swings can be very confusing. Here are a few tips on how to recognize and handle the situation accordingly.
SIGNS OF DEPRESSION
Teens tend to become more irritable and cranky with a negative approach to anything that comes their way. If you see major changes in your teenager’s behavioral pattern such as drop in grades, withdrawal from friends, indecision, substance abuse, significant weight loss or gain-for two weeks or more, there’s a high probability of your child suffering from depression.
HELPING YOUR TEENAGER OVERCOME DEPRESSION
- Have a regular conversation with your child about their feelings, how school is going and what’s troubling him/her is essential. Don’t grill your teen with questions and always maintain a soft understanding tone. No blame game! Let him/her express their feelings without feeling intimidated or scared. You want your teen to feel heard. They may not open up initially and may seem intimidated, irritated. However, keep calm and keep telling them that you are always there to help.
- Starting the conversation can be nerve-wracking. So you can begin by sharing an observation-“I noticed you haven’t been getting proper sleep lately”.
- Your child at this stage has a turmoil of emotions. It is best to talk with positive reinforcement but giving him his space at the same time. Don’t force principles onto him or expect a change-it takes time. Even if your child shuts you down, always keep the lines of communication open.
- Quality matters. Encourage your child to be around positive and uplifting people. Positivity will motivate and boost confidence and help him or her get back on the lost track of healthy relationships.
- Always let your child know that there is no shame in asking for help. For you, will be his/her support system for life. Apparently, whether your child accepts that or not, all he/she really needs is ample love and help from you.
- The road to recovery may be bumpy, but all you need is patience. Every small victory is a milestone. And every milestone is a beautiful memory for you and your child.
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