Statistically, depression is among the most common mental health disorders, affecting millions of people of all ages from around the world. But the worst part is that the younger generation seems to be the most vulnerable group.
Teenage girls, especially, seem to have the highest chances of developing depression during adolescence, which leads to debilitating consequences later in life. In fact, it’s well known that when it comes to problems like depression and anxiety, women have the highest prevalence rates, while boys usually score low on access to treatment.
But since teenage girls are the most vulnerable group, let’s take the time to understand adolescent depression and why this problem affects more and more young women globally.
Understanding depression in teens
Often confused with mood swings and ‘typical adolescent behaviour’ depression can easily pass unnoticed. As adults and especially as parents, it’s somewhat difficult to accept that our teenage child might experience something as unpleasant and burdensome as depression.
Teenage depression differs from sadness and other ‘troubling’ emotions that a growing adolescent might experience as a result of puberty. But just because a child seems sad and ‘depressed’ doesn’t necessarily mean he/she is suffering from a depressive episode.
However, when the sadness, hopelessness, and lack of energy become disturbing enough to interfere with family life, social activities, and school, perhaps it’s time to consult a mental health professional.
The risk factors of teen depression
When it comes to zeroing in on the causes of teenage depression, most experts agree this condition results from a mix of genetic, biological, and environmental factors. In other words, no one can pinpoint the exact cause of this mood disorder.
What we do know for sure is that environmental factors play a huge role in the onset of depression. From ‘toxic’ family interactions or the death of a loved one to lack of social interactions and bullying, countless factors could trigger depressive episodes.
And since it’s impossible to control every aspect of our environment, perhaps
What can parents and caregivers do?
1. Be supportive
Social support plays a huge role in dealing with depression, anxiety, and many other mood disorders. Knowing there’s someone there who’s emotionally available and understands what you’re going through can do wonders for your overall sense of well-being.
In the case of teenage depression, social support doesn’t always come that easily, mainly because teens aren’t too keen on sharing their feelings.
And that’s why, parents, caregivers, friends, colleagues, and loved ones should be the first to intervene by offering emotional support.
2. Do your research
If you have a teenage daughter or friend who you believe might be dealing with depression, make sure you do your research before trying to help her.
Nowadays, the Internet provides plenty of valuable resources that you can use to educate yourself on depression and other mood disorders.
In fact, you can even contact organisations that specialise in providing psychoeducation for people who wish to support a friend or relative who’s dealing with depression.
Do your research before you decide to help someone with depression.
3. Be emotionally available
Being emotionally available allows you to understand what someone dealing with depression is going through.
By making yourself available and lending an empathetic ear, you create a safe space where the other person feels comfortable enough to ‘open up.’
In fact, empathy and emotional connectedness are some of the key ‘tools’ that mental health professionals use to cultivate therapeutic alliance and help their patients overcome mood disorders.
4. See a mental health professional
For teenage girls dealing with depression, talking to a therapist might be a source of discomfort. Since teenagers are generally preoccupied with their image, the mere thought of seeing a psychologist or taking medication can be enough to cause more anxiety symptoms.
Unfortunately, we’re living in a world where people continue to be stigmatised and marginalised because of their mental health issues.
Perhaps it’s up to us, the society, to create an environment where teenage girls and boys can talk about their problems without being afraid their peers might ridicule or seclude them.
5. Be patient
Emotional wounds don’t heal overnight. It takes courage and time to admit you have a problem, ask for help, and address your problems.
For a concerned parent or caregiver, being patient might prove to be challenging. You love your child, and you want to see her happy and healthy as soon as possible.
If your teenager is dealing with depression, don’t put extra pressure on her by going from one specialist to another and experimenting with all sorts of “alternative” treatments, just because you want to rediscover the real them as soon as possible.
Healing takes time and rushing this delicate process will only make things worse.