CHILDHOOD and teen depression and anxiety is a reality. This is one of the most alarming facts to come from all the research; depression is affecting younger and younger people. (Lane, R. E. (2000) The Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies. Yale University Press.)
Twenty years ago, depression in children was almost unknown. Now the fastest rate of increase in depression is among young people.
What we are seeing are changes in society where basic needs for companionship, healthy goals, responsibility, connection to others and meaning are not automatically met. Children and teens are fed a constant barrage of images showing how we are meant to look, sound and be. Meaning is attached to what they have, or look like, rather than what they do, or achieve.
Regardless of our own affluence, we see what those at the ‘top’ have and are told we should have it too, without thought for the tools or strategies to go about achieving it. During childhood, teenage years and particularly adolescence, pressure to conform with peers is very strong. If children feel different, inadequate or deprived in some way, then depression may result, depending on how they deal with it.
Many depressed teens believe that happiness is achieved through the acquisition of fame, money and beauty.
Teen depression, or bad moods?
Depression in adolescents may be difficult to spot because sulkiness, irritability, antisocial behavior, negativity and withdrawal often go hand in hand with growing up.
Children and teenagers can be taught specific skills and ways of thinking which can a) help lift depression and b) help prevent relapse. These skills are already being taught in some schools with remarkable results.
Symptoms of teenage depression
As well as showing many of the same symptoms of adult depression, some symptoms of teenage depression are:
- A downward trend in performance at school or college
- Change in personal hygiene and appearance
- Destructive and/or defiant behavior
- Hallucinations or unusual beliefs
- Appetite or weight has changed considerably (has lost or gained a substantial amount of weight)
- May appear restless, agitated (pacing)
- Has lost a lot of energy, complains of feeling tired all the time
- Complaints of feeling guilty or worthless (‘everything is my fault’, ‘I am bad’)
- Belief that life is not worth living
Checklist for Teen Depression
You may find the following checklist useful if you fear you or your teenager/child is depressed. Remember that these points refer to changes in behavior. If you are concerned about your child, speak to them about it and seek medical help if you feel it is necessary.
- Snapping at people for no apparent reason – irritable Physically or verbally aggressive
- Abandoning favorite hobbies or sports
- Increased passive TV watching
- Increased risk-taking; e.g., dangerous driving, Misuse of drugs and alcohol
- Changes in school behaviors (including training courses and work settings)
- Frequent absences from school, poorer grades than formerly
- Complains of being bored
- Becomes disruptive in class
- Finds it harder to stay on task. Loses concentration easily
- Cannot remember commitments – doesn’t keep appointments
- Has difficulty staying still or conversely, is lethargic
- Changes in relationship to family and friends
- Stops going out with friends; shows no interest in group outings
- Increase or decrease in sexual activity
- May start associating with a different peer group
- Expresses negativity about family
- Loses interest in activities which once were fun
- Incidents of self-injury.
- Suicidal thoughts and ideation
- More conflicts with parents and siblings than usual
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Changes in feeling, thinking and perceiving
- Expresses inappropriate guilt, feelings of not being good enough, worthlessness, failure
- Expresses hopelessness and having nothing to look forward to
- Has a preoccupation with self; is withdrawn
- Cries easily, looks sad, feels alone or isolated
- Has fears about having to be perfect
- Fearful of doing something bad
Of course, many of these behaviors are carried out periodically by perfectly normal teenagers, and must be assessed in context with their normal behavior.
Causes of teen and childhood depression, or apparent triggers, include additional and often unique situations.
- Social rejection
- Family turmoil
- Failing exams
Teenage depression and suicide
Suicide among teenagers & young adults has increase 3-fold since 1970.
It is clear that not only are young people becoming more depressed, they are responding to this depression by killing themselves. The high rate of suicide may be due to the intense pressures felt by teenagers, coupled with a lack of life experiences that tell them that situations, however bad, tend to get better with time.
They are also less likely to possess more subtle thinking styles, being prone to the more extreme, ‘all or nothing’ style of thinking. As we will see, this can be a major factor in depression. People usually kill themselves to escape what they see to be an intolerable and otherwise inescapable situation, not necessarily because they want to die.
There is no shame in asking for help, lets end the stigma and get the help one needs in difficult times. Kids and Teens respond very well to time line therapy (R), NLP and Hypnosis. Contact me if you would like “outside the box” solutions and therapy that works with the unconscious mind for great results.
Why work with me? Because I’m dedicated to helping you achieve your goals and get the results you want and deserve.
I work with teens, women, professionals, business owners & first responders who are ready to make positive shifts and who want to get healthy on every level,
physical ~ emotional ~ mental ~ spiritual.