Depression is a mood disorder that affects how people think, feel, and behave. Depression and its associated illnesses cause feelings of sadness or hopelessness that can last for varying lengths, ranging from a few days to a few years. Some people may only experience a case of depression once in their lives.
On the other hand, others may have several severe episodes. This pervasive and more intense form of depression is known as a major depressive disorder. It is also sometimes referred to as clinical depression or major depression.
Depression causes powerful feelings of hopelessness and helplessness that are invasive and persistent enough to affect every aspect of your teen’s life, including relationships, school, and work. Unfortunately, these symptoms and emotions cannot be willed to stop, and all the time in the world will not make them “go away” on their own.
While depression will not simply go away without depression treatment, how long teen depression and its associated symptoms affect your teen depends on several factors, including lifestyle changes and whether your teen receives prompt treatment.
Many teens (and adults) with clinical depression often wonder if their symptoms will go away on their own over time. People commonly question if there is a way to “cure” depression and alleviate its associated symptoms without completing a treatment program or seeking therapy. While time does indeed help some of the symptoms related to certain life events that may cause depression, it does not alleviate or cure depression.
The symptoms one experiences with major depressive disorder significantly interfere with their ability to function or complete daily activities such as school, work, and social events. They also impact mood, behavior, and physical functions such as sleep and appetite. Major depressive disorder affects approximately fifteen million American adults and occurs in roughly one out of eight teens.1
Moodiness and (sometimes) dramatic swings in behavior are common in teens. Although moody behavior is expected in teens, parents need to watch out for potential indications of a deeper emotional problem such as depression. The challenge lies in identifying what depression looks like in teens. The signs of depression in teens do look different.
A couple of examples of these differences include changes in sleeping patterns and isolation. While adults who struggle with depression may withdraw from everyone, teens with depression may withdraw from the adults in their lives but continue relationships with peers. Also, adults with depression struggle with sleeping problems, including insomnia, whereas teens will still find time for sleep but at irregular hours.2
There are several things parents can do to help their teen safely and effectively manage depression symptoms. When you notice signs of depression in your teen, it is crucial to encourage ongoing social interaction. Encouraging your teen to spend time with others outside of their home environment may help reduce the pain and loneliness that accompany depression.
It is also important to encourage and promote physical health. Engaging in physical activity, eating a balanced diet, and getting ample sleep are vital to protecting and improving your teen’s physical and mental health. When teens struggle with depression, necessary self-care activities, including a healthy diet and sleep, become a lesser priority. Encouraging physical health may help reduce the physical and psychological impacts of depression by keeping your teen’s mind and body healthy.
It is also essential to know when to reach out for professional help. This may be difficult as signs of depression in teens do not (always) appear in all areas of their lives. Also, symptoms of teen depression may come and go, further complicating parents’ ability to understand their teen symptoms. Remember, teen depression can lead to more significant and detrimental medical and mental health challenges when left untreated.
If you are concerned that your teen’s symptoms may be depression, it is crucial to seek help. Your teen’s primary care provider can assess for other conditions that may contribute to their symptoms. They can also provide a depression diagnosis and assist with the best next steps for your teen. If your teen is diagnosed with depression, it is crucial to support them as they progress through depression treatment and beyond.
The first step in depression treatment for your child or teen is to visit your primary care provider. During this visit, the doctor will ask several questions about their symptoms and how they affect them both mentally and physically. Their provider may suggest your teen work with a mental health specialist or seek residential treatment at a specialized facility like Iris Healing®. It is essential to remember that clinical depression (also called a major depressive disorder or major depression) will not go away.
If your teen’s symptoms meet the diagnostic criteria for depression, it is crucial to seek comprehensive treatment as the first step towards a future free of depression. At a professional depression treatment program, your teen’s treatment team will use a combination of treatment models to help your teen overcome their symptoms.
Chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters are associated with depression. The three most referenced are serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Most antidepressant medications reduce or relieve symptoms of depression by altering how neurotransmitters are produced and how they function. Because neurotransmitters, also referred to as chemical messengers, aid in helping the brain cells communicate, medications can slow or enhance these communication functions. Each type or class of antidepressant affects neurotransmitters in different ways.
Talk therapies are the most common form of psychotherapy used to treat depression for people of all ages. There are several different kinds of talk therapy. Talk therapy sessions can be held in both an outpatient and inpatient setting. Suppose your teen has been struggling with chronic, long-term depressive symptoms. In that case, an inpatient setting with specialized and individualized care here at Iris Healing® may be a better option than traditional outpatient settings.
CBT focuses on how one’s thoughts and behaviors contribute to their depression. Your teen’s therapist will help them learn new ways to react to events and triggers. They will also learn to challenge preconceptions that lead to depressive symptoms.
this form of therapy focuses on how your child or teen’s relationships play a role in their depression. They will learn how to spot unhealthy behaviors and change them before they lead to depressive triggers.
This is a more traditional form of therapy. Your child and their therapist will explore behavior patterns and motivations they may not be aware of that could be leading to their depression. They may also investigate traumatic events that could have occurred when your child was younger, which could also be underlying triggers.
Family counseling is also a standard treatment model used when treating depression in teens. Family therapy is designed to help your teen’s family learn more about depression and the early warning signs and symptoms. Understanding these events may help family members to guide their child or teen through depressive events.
In addition to professional therapy models, lifestyle changes, including regular exercise, a healthy diet, reduced screen time, and a healthy sleep schedule, may also help with symptom management.
Your teen may have been experiencing symptoms of depression for some time before anyone realizes the severity of their illness. The symptoms of depression can become severe and debilitating very quickly. A residential treatment program offered here at Iris Healing® may be the best treatment option to help your teen. Residential programs are suggested if your teen is unable to keep themselves safe, unable to care for themselves or if the episode they are experiencing is particularly severe.
Our medical and mental health providers will assess your teen during a stay at Iris Healing®. If they are already on medication for their depressive episodes, those medications will be reviewed and possibly changed. Your teen will also participate in therapy sessions alone and a group setting. This will help provide your teen with the most beneficial. Support and treatment during their treatment program.
Contact our admissions team today for more information if you would like to learn more about teen depression treatment programs and how our team at Iris Healing® can help.