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How to Spot a Depressive Episode in Teens

Depression in adolescents has been on the rise in recent years. Teen depression is a serious condition that shouldn’t be taken lightly by those around them. Teens experience unique life stressors and biological factors that can trigger or put them at risk for developing depression.

It is important to identify any warning signs that your teen may be experiencing a depressive episode. If you begin to notice a frequency of depressive episodes in your teen, it could indicate that they have a depressive disorder.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a common mental health disorder that impacts your mood. Depression causes an invasive feeling of sadness and overall loss of interest in once pleasurable activities. It impacts how you think, act, feel, and process the world around you. While depression can occur at any point and time in someone’s life, symptoms may look different in teens than adults.

Depression continues to rise in the US, especially among teenagers. Many variables contribute to depression, such as academic expectations, family issues, trauma, peer pressure, and changes in the body.

Types of Depression Common in Teens include:

  • Major Depression: Major depressive disorder is an intense form of depression that lasts for most days of the week. It completely impacts the life of the person experiencing it. Symptoms must be present every day for at least two weeks to be considered major depression. Teens with major depression may find themselves completely withdrawn from social activities, have a constant feeling of despair and hopelessness, and can find it difficult to keep up with daily hygiene.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder: Persistent depressive disorder, also known as dysthymia, is a form of low-grade depression. To meet the criteria for dysthymia, your teen must experience a low mood for two years or more, accompanied by two other symptoms of depression.
  • Bipolar Disorder: People with bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, experience dramatic shifts in moods that can disrupt everyday living. Mood episodes range from mania/hypomania, depression, and mixed states. Manic episodes are extreme highs that often feel euphoric with accompanying symptoms. Depressive episodes are symptoms of major depression. Although not everyone with bipolar disorder experiences mixed episodes, they are periods of experiencing both manic and depressive symptoms simultaneously.

Signs of a Major Depressive Episode

It can be challenging to spot the difference between the normal ups and downs of a teenager’s mood. There are specific symptoms of depression that can indicate that something is wrong.

Emotional Changes

  • Crying spells
  • Intense feeling of sadness
  • Anger or hostility
  • Suicidal ideations or frequent thoughts of death
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Low self-esteem

Behavioral changes

  • Lethargy or loss of energy
  • Changes in eating habits resulting in weight loss or gain
  • Poor academic performance
  • Lost of interest or pleasure in things that were once enjoyable
  • Concentration or attention issues
  • Sleep difficulties such as insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Complaining of aches and pains
  • Angry outbursts or aggression
  • Social isolation

If you notice any signs or think that your child may be engaging in self-harm behaviors, seek help immediately. Self-mutilation in regards to depression could include:

  • Cutting specific body parts such as the wrist or legs
  • Hitting oneself
  • Burn marks on the body
  • Banging their head on walls

Suicide shares a relationship with depression. If your teen mentions suicide, do not take this lightly. Contact their pediatrician or local emergency center if they mention a suicide plan or engage in any acts towards going through with it.

Risk Factors

There are many biological and environmental factors linked to depression, including:

  • Being a victim to any form of abuse such as domestic/physically, verbally, or emotionally
  • Imbalance in brain chemicals
  • Having other co-occurring mental disorders like anxiety disorder, personality disorder, PTSD, or ADHD
  • Substance use or addiction
  • Traumatic childhoods or experiencing a form of violence
  • Having a family history of relative’s who experienced or were diagnosed with depression
  • Having a dysfunctional or broken family
  • The loss of a loved one or someone close to them
  • Unsupportive family members or friends in regards to sexual orientation

How Can I Help My Teen With Depression?

As a parent, you play a vital role in getting your teen the help they need with depression. Scheduling an appointment with your child’s pediatrician or seeing a pediatric mental health professional is necessary for a proper assessment. They will assess how severe their symptoms are and what type of depression they may have. From their treatment options should be discussed along with resources that can help. Treatment for depression could require antidepressants or antipsychotics for bipolar disorder. Psychotherapy is also one of the most effective treatment options for people and teens with depression.

Depression is a growing concern in today’s society, especially in teens. Clearfork Academy is an addiction treatment center that specifically care’s for teen boys with substance use and mental health disorders. Adolescents and teens experience different mental health disorders and addiction symptoms than adults. Therefore, they should receive treatment options appropriate to their age. Clearfork offers medical detox and intensive inpatient care, outpatient treatment, and a variety of conventional and holistic therapy options. Depression can often be a silent struggle for many people, especially teens. Waiting too late to reach out for help can have serious consequences that only bring more pain to you and your teen. If your child is struggling with the weight of depression, don’t wait any longer to get help; get help now. To find out more information on how our treatment programs can benefit your teen’s recovery, contact Clearfork Academy today by calling (817) 259-2597.

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