Depression is a serious mental health condition that many teenagers endure throughout their daily lives. Learn more about the impact of mental health and teen depression.
Teenagers face countless challenges and pressures, even during "normal" times. On top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic has added a unique set of obstacles to teens' lives, with many adolescents and young adults experiencing mental health symptoms for the first time. Consequently, navigating the teen years can be extremely tough, and depression affects more teenagers than many of us realize. In fact, one in five adolescents will experience depression at some point during their teen years.
Depression in children, adolescents, and young adults is much more than a phase. Depression is a serious mental health condition that can interfere with everyday life, lead to suicidal thoughts, and affect an individual in the long-term. Although depression is highly treatable with a combination of psychotherapy and medication, most depressed teens never receive help.
Fortunately, with appropriate treatment, most people with depression live fulfilling, productive lives. Even though opening up about depression can feel overwhelming, seeking professional help is the first step toward feeling better.
From upended routines to missed milestones, the impact of COVID-19 has taken a serious toll on adolescent mental health. Studies show that fears and social restrictions surrounding the pandemic have had a negative impact on teens' mental health, especially adolescents between the ages of 13 and 19.
Mental illness among young people was already on the rise when COVID-19 emerged as a pandemic. However, COVID-related changes, including social distancing and remote learning, have added new stressors. Friend groups and social interactions play important roles in development during adolescence, but these opportunities have been limited during the pandemic. At the same time, some teenagers are missing their first semester of high school, their graduation ceremony, or their first season on the varsity team. As a result, many adolescents feel frustrated, lonely, and disconnected due to social distancing and limited social outlets.
According to a March 2020 national poll, nearly 50 percent of parents reported that their teenager showed signs of a new or worsening mental health condition during the pandemic. For adolescents with pre-existing mental health conditions, COVID-related changes may have exacerbated symptoms.
Many teenagers have experienced mental health issues during the pandemic, but it's important to remember that major depressive disorder goes far beyond sadness. If you think your teen has major depression or another depressive disorder, it's important to monitor their behavior and mood for common signs of depression.
Because normal behaviors vary as adolescents develop, it can be difficult to know if your teen is going through a phase or experiencing a mental health condition. Although occasional bad moods or "acting out" is expected during the teenage years, depression is much different. The symptoms of teenage depression extend far beyond a low mood or feelings of sadness.
Depression can be debilitating, disrupting your teen's ability to function in school, connect with other people, and carry out daily activities. Left unchecked, depression can negatively impact your teen's personality, leaving them filled with an overwhelming sense of sadness, despair, and worthlessness. Teen depression is often associated with co-occurring mental disorders, including eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and ADHD.
If you think your teen might have depression, keep an eye out for the following warning signs:
For teenagers with depression, the idea of seeking professional help can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to help your teen start the recovery process. There are several effective treatments for depressive disorders, including talk therapy, psychiatric medications, and lifestyle changes. From supporting your teen to navigating treatment options, here's how to help your depressed teen improve their quality of life.
When exploring different treatment options, make sure to get your teen's input. If you want your teenager to be motivated and engaged in their treatment, it's essential to make a collaborative decision based on their preferences. Remember: Therapy isn't a linear process, and change won't happen overnight. Over time, your teen will learn strategies to overcome their depression, manage their mental health symptoms, and start feeling better.
Lifestyle changes and parental support can make a world of difference for depressed teens, but it's not always enough. Even though it might seem daunting to start therapy during this time, many therapists, including the expert team of clinicians at Charlie Health, have adapted to the current climate by providing high-quality, comprehensive telehealth appointments through video sessions.
If your teen needs more support than once-a-week therapy sessions, our intensive outpatient program (IOP) offers a convenient solution for depressed teenagers and their family members. Unlike traditional IOPs, we connect each client to a licensed therapist based on their individual needs, preferences, background, and experiences to promote healing in a safe, supportive space.