13 Minutes

Edited & clinically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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When your teen is in pain, you are also in distress. Every parent recalls the turbulent adolescent years, the turmoil, the hormone madness, and periods of depression, which makes it simple to relate. When an adolescent is enduring a prolonged bout of depression, particularly if it is interfering with their academic and social performance, it is comforting to know that treatment specific for adolescents is available.

Teenage depression rehabilitation is a method of treatment that is tailored to the specific requirements of teenagers who are undergoing a depressive phase. By concentrating on the age-related stresses that might contribute to depression, teenage depression programs direct attention to the elements that matter most during that stage of life—family, social interactions, and academic concerns.

Depression is a complicated mental health issue that may be caused by a range of different reasons. Whenever a teen’s depression lasts longer than 2 weeks, it is recommended to have them assessed. A complete medical checkup and lab tests will be performed first to eliminate the possibility that a physical problem, such as hypothyroidism or hormone imbalances, is causing the depression symptoms.

Once a medical diagnosis has been ruled out, a psychological examination might give critical information regarding probable causative variables. The teen’s family may have a history of serious depression, implying a hereditary component. Additional considerations may include the following:

  • Family conflicts and divorce
  • Bullying in the classroom
  • Academic responsibilities
  • Disabilities in learning
  • Trauma or abuse in the past
  • Concerns about gender identity
  • Abuse of illicit substances
  • Lack of self-esteem

Teenage depression rates have gone up, with the National Institute of Mental Health indicating that an estimated 3.1 million adolescents—nearly 13 percent of the respondents of the United States adolescent population—had at least one severe bout of depression in 2016. Regrettably, rates of suicide among teenagers and young people aged 15-24 have climbed by 30 percent since 2000. Depression in adolescents should be addressed carefully.

Major depression is different from the more common brief episode of depressed mood brought on by a particular experience. Adolescents must display five or more of the nine symptoms over the majority of a 2 week period to be identified with major depressive disorder, according to the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria. Among these symptoms are the following:

  • Depression or irritability
  • Reduced interest in once-cherished activities, or a loss of satisfaction when participating in them
  • Uncertainty diminished focus
  • Sleep apnea or excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Appetite changes, weight gain, or decrease
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Feelings of insignificance or remorse
  • Agitation or retardation of the psychomotor system
  • Suicidal thoughts or repeated self-harm

What is the distinction between adolescence and typical adolescent growth pains?

The response to this question may provide reassurance. It is critical to distinguish between teenage depression and growing pains. After all, all adolescents exhibit moodiness at times.

Depression is more acute and pervasive in adolescents than usual growing pains. If your teenager exhibits two or more depressive symptoms for a period of more than 2 weeks, they may be experiencing the unpleasant repercussions of a depressive episode.

More significantly, if you’ve got to the stage of investigating adolescent depression, the problem has almost certainly begun to affect your child. Did your teenager’s modest growing pains get you to this point? Most likely not. In that scenario, it’s time to devise a workable answer.

Almost certainly, you have witnessed your adolescent exhibit indications of sadness at school and home over the course of many weeks. If difficulties at school have not yet manifested themselves, they may be on the way to getting major depression. Persistent teenage depression over an indefinite amount of time is a red flag.

As a parent, you must assess the gravity of the situation and be prepared to act. Posing the following questions will help you.

  • Do you believe your adolescent is experiencing typical growth pains?
  • Is there a major shift in your teenager’s functioning?
  • Is this alteration indicative of the start of a severe depressive episode?
  • Is your son or daughter in need of expert assistance?

Are you prepared to address these concerns? Then you must understand the many forms of adolescent depression and how they might influence your child.

Occasional sorrow or a sense of being down is natural for anybody. However, prolonged feelings of this sort may be an indication of mental disease. Depression, or depressing illness, is classified into numerous subtypes. Among them are the following:

Major depression can manifest itself in periods lasting at least 2 weeks. It has a profound effect on a person’s health and quality of life. Suffering from a persistent depressive condition impairs functionality.

A type of serious depression is melancholic depression. It results in a high level of irritation and excessive concern. Several symptoms involve waking up unusually early in a poor mood or being unable to get back asleep.

Winter is the most common season for seasonal depression, owing to the lack of sunshine. Summer’s end, just as school is about to begin, might also induce it. Certain individuals experience depressed symptoms at the same time each year, almost predictably.

Atypical depression manifests itself through a variety of distinct symptoms. These symptoms include an increase in hunger and weight gain, increased sleep, and significant weariness. Additionally, they may feature emotional outbursts and an acute vulnerability to criticism.

Psychotic depression is characterized by a variety of symptoms that are characteristic of psychosis. Extreme symptoms result in a serious mental illness. Impaired emotions and feelings result in a loss of contact with external reality.

Bipolar disorder is a severe kind of depression. Sufferers endure euphoric and depressing ups and down. This illness is also a long-term consequence of depression in 15 percent of adolescents.

There are no medical tests that specifically identify depression. Health care experts evaluate if an adolescent is depressed by conducting interviews and administering psychological exams to the teen, as well as to family and friends, instructors, and colleagues.

The degree of adolescent depression and suicide risk are established by the examination of these interviews. Additionally, treatment recommendations are given based on the data gathered during the interviews.

Additionally, the doctor will check for evidence of co-occurring mental illnesses such as anxiety or illicit substance use, as well as for more complicated types of depression such as bipolar disorder (manic depressive disease) or psychosis. Additionally, the doctor will analyze the teenager’s risk of homicide or suicide. Females commit attempted suicide or self-harm at a higher rate than men, but males commit suicide at a higher rate. The 18-24 age range is one of the most prone to completing suicide.

Teenagers are frequently apprehensive about discussing their emotional problems with their parents. Occasionally, an adolescent will feel more comfortable discussing a sensitive topic with a therapist. Knowing that the things addressed would stay private provides a secure environment for the adolescent to speak up and share issues at school, in friendships, or within the household.

Psychotherapy enables the teenager to get an understanding of the emotions or interpersonal difficulties that may be leading to debilitating depression. The therapist can assist the adolescent in exploring his or her thoughts by offering an encouraging atmosphere free of judgment. This relationship with the therapist provides the adolescent with a sense of not being alone in their struggles, as well as tangible strategies for constructive transformation.

Behavioral cognitive treatment (CBT). CBT is a brief method of psychotherapy that has been shown to significantly reduce symptoms. It works by assisting the adolescent in identifying negative self-talk that contributes to emotions of low self-worth, hopelessness, and despair. After discovering the mental distortions, the teenager is led towards substituting them with decontextualized, healthy, reasonable, and productive thoughts. After addressing the cognitive distortions, a therapist can assist the adolescent in developing new solutions.

Psychodynamic therapy. Psychodynamic psychotherapy allows for a more in-depth examination of any underlying emotional difficulties or trauma that may be contributing to the sad mood. As a consequence of childhood trauma, deprivation, or tragedy, the adolescent may have intense emotional challenges and conflicts. This extended treatment allows the therapist to assist in drawing unpleasant problems to the surface, where they may be spoken freely, addressed, and ultimately healed.

What is depression Counselling?

Family therapy. Family therapy is frequently combined with another type of one-on-one therapy. These meetings are attended by family members, who enable the teenager to speak up and address their difficulties. The therapist engages the family in a variety of activities in order to generate candid dialogue and guide the family toward more clear communication.

When a teenager is properly diagnosed, the physician will assess the benefits and drawbacks before including antidepressant medication into the treatment regimen. In certain situations, the teenager will need to start antidepressant medication therapy. The medicine is provided in combination with psychotherapy for a specified amount of time. Antidepressants may help alleviate depression’s symptoms, which include sorrow, crying, impatience, and worrying. However, the medications may not function for everyone, and therefore, finding the most effective alternative may need some experimentation. Lexapro and  Prozac are the most often recommended antidepressants for adolescents.

Yes. Numerous research studies have demonstrated the efficacy of depression drugs in alleviating the symptoms of adolescent depression. Significant recent research financed by the National Institute of Mental Health examined three distinct ways to treat teenagers suffering from moderate to severe depression:

One strategy involved the use of the antidepressant medication Prozac, which is FDA-approved for use in juvenile patients aged 8-18.

The second treatment was cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, which assisted the teen in recognizing and changing negative thought patterns that may exacerbate depressive symptoms.

Thirdly, a combination of medication and CBT was used.

Researchers discovered that nearly 3 out of every 4 patients who got the combo treatment of psychotherapy and anti-depressant medication considerably improved at the conclusion of the three-month trial. Over 60 percent of children who received Prozac alone improved. However, the study demonstrated that combined treatment was approximately twice as good as psychotherapy alone in alleviating depression.

A disturbing data released in May 2019 documented a huge increase in pre-adolescent and teenage suicide and suicide attempts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 16 percent of adolescents contemplate suicide each year. According to the data, 60,000 adolescent females aged 10-18 attempted suicide in 2018, more than quadrupling the rate in 2008. Suicide is the 2nd largest cause of mortality among adolescents and young adults in the United States.

Some have cited the television program 13 Reasons Why, which centers on a young girl who commits suicide in reaction to bullying, as a possible explanation for the spike in adolescent suicide. Unfortunately, suicide is presented as a viable alternative to impressionable young minds. Teenagers who perceive their personal difficulties as terrible or overwhelming may be predisposed to try suicide. When their teen exhibits depressive signs, parents should take action and get them assessed by a mental health professional.

Suicide danger signs associated with adolescent depression include the following:

  • Showing a lack of optimism about the future
  • Giving up on oneself and behaving as if no one else is going to listen
  • Prepare for death by donating valued things, making farewell notes, or writing a will.
  • Beginning to use or misuse drugs or alcohol in order to sleep or as a means of coping with their emotional distress
  • Defiant attitude
  • Violent behavior
  • Threatening to commit suicide

A residential teenage depression treatment program is a good alternative for a youngster whose depression has not improved after therapy sessions. For a specific duration of time, a teenage depression rehabilitation enables the youngster to live in a secure, caring, and stress-free atmosphere. Throughout their tenure, the adolescent will get more rigorous, targeted therapy.

Along with standard individual and group treatment, residential rehab for teenagers will provide a variety of adjunct therapies that have been found to be effective with adolescents. These may include equestrian treatment, during which the teenager cares for a horse, music and art therapy, meditation, yoga, and perhaps even surf therapy.

When the following conditions exist, it may be time to explore a therapy program for a depressed adolescent:

  • They are suicidal on a constant basis.
  • They are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Their depressed symptoms have a major influence on their everyday functioning.
  • They do not benefit from outpatient therapy or other less intense treatment alternatives.

Outpatient Treatments. Outpatient therapy is usually an extremely successful method of treating depression. Psychotherapy may include supporting your teenager in altering their way of thinking or modifying some of their behavior that promotes their depressive symptoms.

Family members may also be included in therapy. A therapist may wish to address family-wide issues, such as divorce or continuing family strife.

The majority of the time, treatment is really beneficial in alleviating depression symptoms. However, on rare occasions, symptoms might not improve. And they may possibly deteriorate more. If treatment does not work, an adolescent may require more care.

Teenagers can enroll in a variety of different sorts of therapy programs. Typically, a therapist or your teenager’s doctor will suggest your teen to the most appropriate program for their condition.

Day Treatment Programs. Day treatment programs are ideal for adolescents who do not require 24-hour supervision. They provide an organized, supportive environment during the day. They can assist a kid who is struggling academically or is otherwise having substantial difficulties coping with their depression on a regular basis. Teenagers may spend most of the day at the facility and then go home late. Often, programs work in conjunction with schools to allow students to maintain their usual daily routines while receiving additional help.

Day treatment programs provide a range of services, including the following:

  • Clinical evaluation
  • The personal, group, and family therapy
  • Activities aimed at rehab

Residential Programs

Residential treatment facilities and rehabilitative boarding schools are institutions dedicated exclusively to the treatment of mental health conditions. They are supervised by professionals who provide continuous oversight and therapeutic assistance. These programs are designed to assist those suffering from mental health illnesses by offering the following services:

  • Educational programming
  • A personalized treatment plan
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Mental health treatment, including medication
  • Alternative treatments, such as pet therapy or art therapy, are available.
  • Preparing for discharge from the facility

Residential programs that may not be appropriate for adolescents with depression and may even exacerbate symptoms include outdoor therapy and training courses, as these programs may not provide enough mental health care for treating depression.

Rehab Programs in Hospitals. A suicidal teenager who is distressed may require admission to a mental facility to assure their safety. The major objective of this environment is to reduce suicidal thoughts via the use of a particular framework, medicines, and rigorous treatment.

Hospital stays are brief, frenetic, and intensive, and the majority of adolescents require subsequent treatment in a residential facility. At times, hospitalization is unavoidable.

Teenagers typically take part in activities such as the following throughout their stay:

  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Academic programs
  • Therapy on an individual basis
  • Multi-family groups
  • Therapies of the vocational, leisure, and artistic nature
  • Psychological evaluations

Parenting teenagers may be quite difficult. However, there are several useful communication and parenting skills that you can use to enable your teenager to cope with stress:

  • When educating your teen, substitute positive feedback for appropriate conduct for guilt and penalty. Guilt and discipline can damage an individual’s self-esteem and sense of adequacy.
  • Encourage your adolescent to make errors. Overprotection or decision-making for adolescents may be interpreted as a lack of confidence in their ability. This might damage their confidence.
  • Allow your teen to breathe. Expect adolescents to not always do precisely what you say.
  • Do not coerce your teen into following a course you want. Avoid attempting to relive your childhood via the actions and experiences of your teenager.
  • Care to listen to your teenager’s worries if you feel they are sad. Even if you believe the issue is trivial, keep in mind that it may feel extremely real to those who are growing up.
  • Maintain open channels of contact, even if your adolescent appears to be withdrawing.
  • Attempt to refrain from instructing your teen what to do. Rather than that, listen carefully and you may learn more about the issues that are producing the troubles.
  • If your teenager is close to and familiar with a relative or friend, you may advise that they speak with this individual about their worries.
  • If you are feeling overwhelmed or unable to communicate with your teenager, or if your concerns persist, get assistance from a trained health care provider.