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Parent's Guide to Teen Depression

A Guide to Parenting Teenagers Who May Have or Are Suffering From Depression

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Updated September 24, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Teen Depression Parents Guide Help for Parenting Teenagers
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If you are a parent of a teenager who may have depression, I want you to know these two important facts: You are not alone and there is help for your teen and family.

The accepted statistics in the United States on teen depression from SAMHSA and the Surgeon General state that about 20% of teens will experience some type of depression before they become an adult, between 10-15% of teens have symptoms of teen depression at any given time and about 5% of teens are suffering from major depression. So according to these statistics, if your teen's high school class has 100 students in it, 20 of them will suffer from depression at some point before they become adults, 10 to 15 of them will show signs of teen depression at any given time - whether or not these signs develop into depression - and 5 of them will suffer from major depression. These teens have parents like you - you are not alone.

When your teen goes through any problem, especially those that come with a mental health stigma like depression, parents can feel isolated or embarrassed. This are normal feelings and it is OK to have them. But you will need to get control of them, place them aside and seek help by calling your teen's doctor or local social services. There is help for your teen and your family. Currently the statistics for depressed teens who seek help are less than 33 percent, yet 80 percent of teens with depression can be successfully treated if they seek help from a doctor or therapist.

How Do Parents Know Their Teen Has Depression?

Parents know their teen has depression by seeing a doctor who can diagnosis teen depression. There is no other way around that. Unlike a stomach virus or the common cold that can be treated with a home remedy like chicken soup, teen depression needs to diagnosed by a doctor, as there are different causes of depression -- therefore different treatments. If you are unsure what your teen is experiencing is depression, you can use these resources to help:

  • Signs of Teen Depression
    Teen depression, what are the signs? How do I know if my teen is depressed? A resource for parents you think their teen may be depressed, a listing of the signs of teen depression.
  • First Signs of Teen Depression
    Parents of teens share the first signs of when they thought their teen may be depressed. Read what these parents had to say and share your experiences here.
  • 5 Things You Should Do if You Think Your Teen is Depressed
    Depression is a problem many teens face. It often disguises itself as normal "mood swings" due to puberty or teen angst. Therefore, it is often ignored until something more serious happens, like a suicide attempt or serious risk taking behavior gets the teen into trouble. Here are five things parents should do if they think their teen has depression.

What Is Causing My Teen's Depressed Moods?

Depression in teens can be caused by different factors: a tragic event in the teen's life, a genetic predisposition to depression, or social out-casting by the teen's peers to name a few. Even being a teenager and going through puberty is a cause for mood swings and depressed moods. The stress of becoming a young adult with all of its social and independent aspects can cause bouts of sadness and depression. All of these factors contribute to the problem doctors have of diagnosing depressed teens. For parents, this means that all depression symptoms should be noted, you should continue to be aware of your teen's moods and discuss any signs with your teen's doctor.

If you want to know what could be causing your teen's depression, you can go to the source and talk to your teen. They may be able to give you an answer - or they may not know themselves. Either way, talking to your teen will help you keep the lines of communication open with them while they are working through their depression.

  • Triggers to Teen Depression
    Depression in teens can be triggered by a number of factors, including a reaction to stress or a biochemical imbalance in the brain. Some of the reasons for the possible onset of depression in teens are surprising.
  • Teen Depression - It's Not What You Think
    Depression in teens deeply affects those who suffer from it, but the symptoms are often much different than depression in adults. Here's what you need to know about how depression shows up in teens.

How Do I Get My Depressed Teen Help?

Start getting your teen help for depression by talking to their doctor letting him know you wish to find a specialist in the mental health field. Working with a psychiatrist or a combination of a psychologist and your family doctor is the best beginning strategy for a teen suffering from depression. This type of treatment strategy will not only help your teen deal with their current problem, but will also prevent the depression from getting worse and causing more problems in school, their social lives and their development.

Some teens who are suffering from depression do not want to seek help. They may beg, get upset with you and/or become violent when you suggest it. This happens and can be part of the depression. If this is the case you must seek help for your teen.

  • How to Help Your Depressed Teen
    Parents usually need to take charge in getting help for a depressed teen. Learn when to seek professional help for a depressed teen and the initial steps in doing so.
  • Therapy Options for Your Depressed Teen
    After a teen is evaluated for depression, options for professional therapy and treatment will be suggested and include individual, group, family, medication and expressive therapies. What works for one teen might not work for another. Continue to explore options until you find the ones that help your teen to feel and function better.
  • How Do I Help My Teen Who Refuses to Get Help for Her Depression?
    How can I help my teen who appears to suffer from depression but refuses to get help? Depression in teens is serious and requires treatment. Here are proven suggestions for helping a teen take the steps needed to heal from depression.
  • Strategies to Help Teens Heal From Depression
    A comprehensive approach to helping depressed teens combines professional therapy with self-help strategies. These self-help strategies can help to shift negative patterns and provide teens with tools they can implement and explore on their own.

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