There are a number of factors that put a teen at a higher risk for developing depression. Many of these risk factor are red flags for parents, friends, and loved ones to watch out for in a teenager. These factors include:
- Experiencing problems or difficulty at school.
- Going through a traumatic event. Examples include parents who get divorced, abusive parents, the death of a loved one, or a break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Weight loss or weight gain.
- Difficulty dealing with anger.
- Developing an interest in violence or a becoming increasingly fearful of violence.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Developing an interest in drugs or alcohol.
Teenage depression is the leading cause of teenage suicide. Yet, approximately 80% of teenagers thinking of suicide leave clues. Through careful observation and an understanding of the risk factors of teenage depression, many of these suicides can be prevented.
Causes of Teenage Depression
Teenage depression is largely caused by stress. During the adolescent years, a person undergoes a number of emotional, physical, and mental changes. First of all, hormones start raging and bring with them a plethora of confusing emotions. In addition, teenagers often feel a great deal of pressure from their parents and from teachers to do well in school and to participate in athletics. Furthermore, peer pressure and an overwhelming desire to do whatever it takes to fit in with their peers causes teenagers a great deal of stress.
The stress teenagers feel can result in anger, nervousness, and an inability to concentrate. It can also lead to physical symptoms such as nausea and headaches. Ultimately, the stress can cause social withdraw and depression.
Preventing Teenage Depression
Thankfully, there are several steps a parent can take to prevent teenage depression from setting in on their child.
The first is to always utilize positive disciplinary techniques. Desirable behaviors should be reinforced through praise and recognition rather than utilizing punishment and shame techniques. Punishment and shaming only serves to leave the teenager feeling worthless and inadequate.
At the same time, parents must be careful not to overprotect or to overdirect their teenagers. Children and young adults need to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.
Protecting your teen from experiencing mistakes, or continually telling your child what to do rather than letting him or her make independent decisions, will ultimately make them feel as if you have know faith in his or her ability to make decisions.
It is also important to never push your teen to participate in certain activities because you want him or her to reach your unachieved goals. Your child needs to find his or her own sense of identity and worth.