Depression is a dangerous psychological disease that can occur in a child during adulthood. At this point, it is very important to notice the first signs: if you do not start treatment in time, the disease can develop into a chronic form and manifest itself in adulthood with more severe consequences. Why parents should pay more attention to the psychological state of the child and how to prevent adolescent depression.
By what signs can you understand that a child has depression?
– The first sign of depression in adolescents is lethargy, apathy, refusal of any entertainment and a decrease in school performance. Often, in response to a child’s loss of interest in school, parents begin to pressure and criticize him, trying to force him to study. This is incorrect, because here you need to try to find out the reason why this is happening. The opposite effect also happens: some children use their studies as a way to “escape” from themselves and their problems, on the contrary, academic performance increases, and parents do not take this into account, rejoicing at the success of the child.
When any problems arise, a person always begins to behave differently from before. Accordingly, with depression, for example, you want to lie down all day, do nothing. Adults interpret this as a sign of relaxation and start swearing. Also, one of the signs of depression is insomnia, in adolescents it most often takes certain forms: the child does not sleep, spends the whole night at the computer or in a smartphone. Such a downed regime is perceived by parents as sabotage.
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The next sign is a violation of appetite and eating habits. This is also worth paying attention to. Another marker is the loss of interest in the usual activities, to communicate with peers. And, of course, the most inconspicuous symptoms that only the child himself feels are depressive thoughts, a feeling of longing, a constant state of anxiety and fear, a negative perception of himself and others. Parents can notice this only when a teenager begins to ask some unusual questions for him, for example, about life and death. There is no need to dismiss it and call it “nonsense”, you need to try to find out why the child became interested in this topic, why he had such thoughts and what they are related to.
Why do teenagers get depressed? Which children are at risk?
– According to WHO statistics, about 11% of boys and girls under the age of 18 suffer from depression. That is, it is every tenth teenager, but the statistics include only those cases that have been registered, respectively, this figure may be much higher. Unfortunately, most often depression during puberty remains without the attention of others: parents often ignore the symptoms obvious to specialists, or take them for whims or age–related character changes, so the only thing they resort to to combat this condition of a teenager is moralizing or even punishment.
Crises in adolescence are inevitable, as physical changes and hormonal explosion occur in the body of children, which gives rise to emotional instability. During this period, the child begins to overestimate life attitudes, his character and ways of social interaction with others change. At this stage, parents should never show pressure, the teenager needs to be supported, show love and understanding. After all, in addition to the internal processes that concern him, pressure is also increasing from the outside: from teachers at school, from friends; the first experience of relationships with the opposite sex. Self-doubt can be an addition to everything. All these factors can lead a child into a state of depression if he does not feel support from the family.
In addition, depression can also be hereditary. But more often the reason is the environment in which the teenager is: what kind of relationship he has with his parents, how much he is accepted and loved, how comfortable he feels in the family, how successful he is in this or that activity.
Today’s youth are more likely to suffer from depression than past generations. Is this true? Why is there such a trend?
– Modern teenagers suffer from depression much more often than their predecessors. This is due to the fact that now an unlimited flow of information is directed at children, they receive it from a huge number of sources, and it is not always positive. Teenagers in the period of growing up are very suspicious, and are often ready to believe everything they write and say on social networks. In addition, teenage self-doubt gives rise to a desire to compare your life with the “beautiful” life dictated by social networks. An addition is the constant communication on the Internet, which makes children feel lonely in real life. That is why modern youth is more susceptible to the development of severe psychological conditions. And parents need to teach the child to interact with the world from childhood, try to build a trusting relationship with him so that he is not afraid to tell mom and dad about his problems and experiences.
How to help a teenager get rid of depression? What consequences can there be if you don’t start therapy on time?
– A depressed teenager is initially worse off than an adult, because he has not yet developed the usual ways to protect his psyche and is unable to ignore what is happening to him, he still lacks the skills of emotional self-regulation. Very often teenagers feel shame and guilt for their condition, this can manifest itself through aggression. It hurts them, but it’s a shame to cry and complain, and they express it as they know how. Therefore, most often an aggressive teenager is an unhappy teenager. Such children need help first of all, not education. And if it is not provided in time, during puberty, over time, depression will manifest itself in a more severe form. Therefore, early intervention directly affects the course of the disease in the future.
How to convince a teenager to visit a psychotherapist or psychologist?
– If parents have found symptoms of depression in a child, there is no need to hurry, you need to do careful work and start small. First of all, try to restore the lost trust, show support, interest, offer help. At this point, you need to be completely on the side of the child. If depression has already taken a clinical form, then you need to seek help from specialists. And as experience shows, the most effective tool in the fight against adolescent depression is conversational practice in combination with properly selected medications.
I must say right away that it is best for a parent to go to an appointment with a teenager. Only in this way will the psychologist be able to consider the current situation well. When you voice the idea to a child to go to a psychologist for a consultation, in order to convince him of the need for such a visit, you need to act according to a certain algorithm. The first is not to take the position of “it is necessary” in any case, to talk to the child on an equal footing, as with an adult. Try to explain to him that now, perhaps, you don’t understand each other, but no matter what, you love him and want to help. The second is to convey to the teenager that a third person is needed to resolve the current situation and offer to choose a specialist together. Third, the parent may try to say that he himself wants to go to a psychologist to sort out the existing problems between him and the child, but explain that if he goes alone, the psychologist will not have the opportunity to hear two points of view.
If in the end these methods did not help convince the teenager, you can suggest just going to the first appointment and saying that if you don’t like it, you won’t come back to this topic anymore. But in no case should you put pressure, force, blackmail, threaten or make any excessive promises. It’s taboo.
What role do social networks and the Internet play in the formation of depressive states?
– According to researchers at the University of Montreal, social networks and TV shows have caused a decrease in self-esteem in adolescents and, as a result, a trigger for depression. In their opinion, television and social networks include content that presents the lives of other young people in a very positive way, forms an idea of an ideal life. Teenagers unwittingly begin to compare themselves with those they see on social networks, find themselves dissatisfied with the result, and this dissatisfaction becomes the cause of the development of a depressive state. Thus, the more time a child spends on social networks, the higher the risk of developing depression.