Dealing With Teenage Depression: Effective Treatment Options

Teenage Depression

Adolescence is a uniquely vulnerable phase of our lives, and teenagers are more prone to depression than many of us realize. Teenage depression is more than simple moodiness - it is a serious mental health condition that interferes with the adolescent’s self-esteem, social life, and academic performance. Fortunately, adequate treatment and parental support, love, and guidance can help teens overcome depression.


What Causes Depression In Teens?

While genes may increase the likelihood of depression in teenagers, environmental and social factors also play a significant role. The following factors can exacerbate symptoms or trigger the onset of depression in adolescents:

  • Bullying. Many teenagers experience bullying by their peers, which can increase their stress levels and shatter their self-esteem. This can result in a strong and long-lasting sense of hopelessness and helplessness.
  • Other physical or mental health issues. In many cases, teenage depression cooccurs with other mental health conditions, such as anxiety, ADHD, OCD, eating disorders, and learning disabilities. These conditions can cause frustration in teenagers and reduce their confidence. Furthermore, teenagers with a physical disability or chronic illness are particularly vulnerable to depression. 
  • Trauma from stressful events. Teens who have experienced violence or abuse in their earlier childhood years are more likely to develop depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Additionally, tragic events like the death of a family member can result in a depressive mood.
  • Unsupportive environment. Adolescents in unsupportive home or school environments are at a higher risk of depression. For instance, LGBTQ teenagers in unaccepting and hostile settings are particularly vulnerable to depression.
  • Social media use. The more active adolescents are on social media, the higher rates of depression they report. Teens who follow social media trends may end up comparing their appearance and lifestyle to those of their peers, which harms their self-esteem. Moreover, spending too much time on social media can reduce the time teens spend being physically active or developing new skills.

What Is The Most Effective Treatment For Adolescent Depression?

Adolescents with depression can significantly benefit from a combination of medication and psychotherapy (talk therapy). Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy or psychological counseling, is a method of treating depression by discussing the person’s feelings and concerns with a mental health professional. Various forms of psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy, can be helpful for adolescent depression.

In cases of severe depressive episodes and a tendency toward self-harm, depressed teenagers may require hospitalization or a special outpatient program until their mental state improves. Seeking psychiatric treatment at a hospital can provide a secure and calm environment for your teen until they acquire coping mechanisms and develop a safety plan.

The stigma surrounding mental health conditions and treatment is still present among adolescents. As a parent or older relative, you need to reassure the teen in your family who struggles with depressive episodes about the importance of seeking professional help.

What Can A 14-Year-Old Take For Depression?   

Most antidepressants are safe for adolescents, but the FDA labels them with the most stringent warning, also known as the black box warning. As a rare side effect, some children, teenagers, and young adults under 25 may experience an increase in suicidal ideation when taking antidepressants, particularly in the initial weeks after starting or when the dosage is changed.

It is crucial to closely monitor teens taking antidepressants for any signs of increased depression or unusual behavior, especially during the start of their treatment or in case of dosage change. Despite required precautions, the benefits of antidepressants outweigh the risks for most adolescents who struggle with depression. It is important to remember that antidepressants can reduce the long-term risk of suicide.

Finding the right medication or dosage may require time and experimentation, as every adolescent is unique. It is important to be patient during this process, as certain medications may take several weeks or even longer to fully take effect and for any side effects to decrease as the body adjusts.

Final Thoughts

Occasional bad moods or bouts of aggression are a normal part of adolescence. However, depression is a serious mental health condition that goes beyond sadness or irritability, causing a lot of pain for the teenager and disrupting family life. Luckily, there are many ways you can help your child feel better.

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