If you or your teenaged child is experiencing Depression, it's as if you're seeing the world through dark, cloudy glasses, lenses of negativity, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, along with negative, often self-critical thoughts. There is this universal loss of joy in many aspects of life when Depressed. Even usually happy moments (where you may see your teen smile and laugh) are often internally perceived as numbed, heavy or dampened to varying degrees by depression. This is why Depression can feel physical, with body aches and pains, headaches, stomach aches (especially in children), difficulty sleeping, etc. Depression can drain your energy and limit your motivation to find your happiness. Teens may incorrectly assume that they will never feel better, let alone happy. Depression itself can be debilitating.
Teen Depression, complicated by the often confusing and precarious nature of adolescence, self-consciousness, hormones, negative peer social interactions, friendship drama, limited emotional skills, not yet fully developed frontal lobes (I could go on), can be excruciating and lonely for teens. Teen Depression exists during an already tumultuous time. Add on family difficulties, trauma, frequent bullying, genetic predisposition, neurochemistry, a depressed teen can find it difficult to navigate adolescence successfully without the appropriate positive coping tools. Teen Depression is often a negative thought-based mental state that can take on a mind and body life of it's own if the depressive thinking becomes habitual. Teens can be observed as extremely sad or angry. If you as a parent notice any of the above symptoms when your child is even younger, get help as soon as possible.
There is no reason your son or daughter has to continue suffering.
Teen Depression goes beyond normal sadness or irritability. Often teens who are uncomfortable with their feelings learn to numb out and avoid feelings, as those feelings are often described by teens as stressful and overwhelming. Untreated Teen Depression can lead to negative, self-medicating coping behaviors that only contribute to the downward spiral of Depression. The good news is Teen Depression is definitely treatable. The sooner the better. Don't wait for Teen Depression to resolve on its own. The damaging effects of Teen Depression can be long-lasting without treatment.
For especially Teen Depression, I believe we have to help them retrain their brains using research supported Mindfulness-based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (MbCBT): thinking, calming, positive coping tools and strategies, strengthening skills they can use for life. We can apply what we now understand as our strong mind-body connection to help teens change negative thoughts and feelings to a more positive view of themselves and outlook on life. With guidance, your teen's feelings don't have to be so stressful and overwhelming. Teens can intentionally learn to choose happiness every day. If there are skill deficits getting in the way of a teenager's happier life, we can brainstorm how to develop those successfully as well. With Teen Depression, we have to come at it from all angles. We may need to consider medication. Regardless, tools are a necessity and would help potential medication work better.
Parents can help and support their teens by providing a non-judgmental relationship where you can be a team in challenging the negative brain tricks of Depression. Your strength-filled adolescent child may be struggling with Teen Depression, but they are so much more than their Depression. They just may not know it yet ; ) Happy to help your teen find their happiness and well-being. They just may need some guidance putting on those clear, balanced-thinking glasses.