As a parent or teacher, we know that it is normal for teenagers to be moody and sullen. However, it is important to understand when this becomes something more serious. It is a sad fact that the suicide rate in young people is growing, so as a concerned adult you need to recognize the symptoms of depression and understand the pressures your children might be facing.
It may be that you already work in the field of mental health, are considering a career in doing so, or taking one of the masters in clinical mental health counseling programs. Parents, teachers, and counselors are on the front line when it comes to caring for children, and it is vitally important that you know how to help when they are suffering inside. Depression sucks, and here’s a few of the reasons of what might be causing it in your children, students, or friends:
Causes of Depression: Medically speaking, there is still no real evidence as to what causes depression. Genetics may play a part, as is a chemical imbalance in the brain. For the teenager, there are certain factors that can contribute. These include:
Self-Image: Every day, children are bombarded with messages from the media, peers, and social networking on how they should look, feel, and conform. Many young people suffer from body issues when they unrealistically compare themselves to the airbrushed models in magazines and online. If they are not the right weight or don’t have the right clothing, this can be a great source of stress for the teenager, especially when they face bullying because of it.
School: We all know how hard school can be (as if we needed reminding!). It is supposed to be a place of learning and growth, however, for some young people, the only knowledge they are getting is that they are not good enough. Fitting in with peers, broken relationships, dealing with too much homework, studying for tests and exams, and preparing for colleges can add a huge amount of stress into your child’s life.
Bullying is a major issue that can affect children physically and mentally. With the rise of social media, so much bullying is done online, with vile private messages and the posting of personal pictures, which the child has no control over. This can give off the illusion of nowhere being safe for the child.
What can you do? For starters, be there to offer support. They may not tell you how they are feeling, but encourage them to talk when appropriate. Symptoms of depression include moodiness, withdrawal from family and friends, lack of passion in things that they normally enjoyed doing, and mood swings. Some of these are normal for a teenager as their bodies change, but they could also be warning signs.
When you talk to your child or student, be open and listen to what they have to say. Do not judge or say something glib, such as ‘snap out of it’ (smh!!). Share your concerns with a doctor and other mental health professionals to ensure that the child receives the help that they need to get them back on track and smiling again.
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