How depression in teens affects positive thinking
The teenage years were the hardest of my life!
Between trying to fit in, feeling self-conscious all the time, and getting teased every day, it was rough. Then combine that with the pressure from my parents to ‘do well in school,’ and you have a recipe for disaster.
But let’s face it – this is nothing new.
In fact, my best guess is that more than half the population have exactly these feelings at this same life stage. Really, is it any wonder that so many teenagers suffer from the damned ‘puberty blues.’
Scarily, in a number of teens, these feelings of sadness are so much more than just feeling blue.
Yep, you guessed it – teenage depression.
Depression in teens
Teen depression is a serious mental health issue that causes constant feelings of sadness. With this comes a general loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed, combined with sensations of fatigue and lethargy.
In short, it negatively affects how your teen thinks, feels, and acts.
Things like peer pressure, academic expectations, and going through puberty, all bring on a host of negative emotions during the teenage years. However, for some teens, these emotions are not simply short-term feelings.
They are a symptom of depression.
And do you want to know what is truly scary? That up to 20% of teens have been suggested to show signs and symptoms of depression in their adolescents.
Just to be clear, that is one in five teenagers suffering from depression.
Teen depression and positive thinking
Given that depression leads to chronic feelings of sadness, it should come as no surprise that it can have a severe impact on positive thinking.
Depression leads to feelings of apathy. A general sense that anything you do will fail, so there is no point even trying in the first place.
This is a vicious cycle – and it has some disastrous effects.
Teen depression has been shown to impact school performance, destroy relationships with parents and peers, and impact their ability to function on a daily basis. With this comes an increased likelihood of engaging in risky behaviours and drug taking.
All of which can make the issue worse.
What are the recent causes of teenage depression?
There is no doubt that teen depression is becoming increasingly common in today’s society. And this isn’t a coincidence.
In fact, it looks as if there are a couple of key reasons as to why this might be the case.
I know what you are thinking – isolation, don’t be ridiculous, my teen is always messaging his friends.
But here’s the kicker – it is not the same thing as talking.
While most teens communicate constantly with friends via text and social media, they don’t actually interact with one another. Teens now spend more time online, and less time in person, with those who are closest to them than ever before
Why does this matter?
Because real in-person conversations are incredibly good for mental health. They provide an opportunity for real human connection. They create a sense of togetherness that cannot be obtained from behind a screen.
And importantly, they help reduce the risk of depression.
Going hand in hand with isolation is social media.
For the longest time, teens have struggled with fitting in. They want to be liked, they want to look a certain way, and they want people to take notice of them.
I know this, because I was the same.
And social media makes it worse. By providing a stream of life highlights, celebrity bodies, and fitness influencers, they are constantly comparing themselves to others. With this comes unrealistic expectations, and feelings of always missing out.
Because of this, social media use has been linked to poor body image and disordered eating — both of which are known to lead to depression.
Signs of teen depression
One of the hardest things in this area relates to our ability to distinguish between normal teenage angst and teenage depression – and trust me when I say there is a difference.
Adolescence is a trying time that results in emotional mood swings. Moreover, many teens have trouble expressing their feelings, and they also tend to be less likely to seek help.
Which is why looking for the signs of teen depression is so important. Some of the more obvious ones include:
- Rapidly worsening academic performance
- Avoiding friends
- Withdrawal from hobbies and activities
- Change in sleeping habits (insomnia is a common sign)
- The development of strange eating habits
- Increases in anger, sadness, or irritability
- Inability to focus
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Participating in risk taking behaviour
- Suicidal thoughts or behavior
While this is not a definitive list, if your teen is showing a number of these symptoms in combination, then you might want to make some changes.
What you can do about teenage depression?
First and foremost, we want to combat isolation and social media as much as humanly possible.
This means encouraging your teen to invite friends over, eating dinner together regularly, and actively trying to participate in activities with your kids. With this, a great step is to encourage your kids to play sports or join clubs.
Then in the realm of social media, make sure to remind your child that those photoshopped pictures of celebrities do not represent what they actually look like.
Additionally, make sure to discuss the potential negatives of social media with your kids, while limiting your own interaction with social media. Remember, ‘do as I do’ is much more powerful than just ‘do as I say’.
Seek professional help
And if all else fails, remember that it is not all doom and gloom.
Depression is not a death sentence, and there are treatments available — and it all starts by seeking professional help.
Early diagnosis of depression can markedly improve the results of treatment. So if you truly fear that your child might be suffering from depression, try and get them to see a therapist or psychiatrist as soon as possible.
These people see this sort of stuff on a daily basis, and they know what works and what doesn’t.
Not only will they be able to help your teen deal with their emotions, but they will also be able to recommend some potential treatment options (things like TMS treatments and light therapy come to mind).
So in short when there are signs of depression in teens, do not be afraid to seek help!
Take Home Message
With the rise of modern technology and an increase in social isolation, teenage depression is becoming increasingly common. With this comes feelings of unhappiness and lethargy, reduced academic performance, and a loss of life quality.
In short, it is a terrible issue.
But by looking closely for the signs and symptoms of teenage depression, you can make some changes early and stop in its tracks for good.
Dr. Lindsay Israel is a board-certified psychiatrist. Her goal is to help patients feel empowered because their symptoms can leave them feeling powerless.
She specializes in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy for the treatment of various psychiatric disorders. TMS is FDA-approved for depression and is a non-invasive, non-medication alternative to traditional treatments.
Dr. Israel’s depression treatment center, Success TMS, focuses on this advanced therapy which allows patients to achieve remission from depression and return back to their best lives.