Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Identifying and Treating Adolescent Depression

Parenting is a challenging job. Your child needs your guidance and help in practically every aspect of life. One of the major challenges that parents face today is related to the management of emotional upheavals in their teenagers. The emotional turbulence that a child goes through is normal and part of the process of growing up. But emotional trauma can potentially lead to depression in certain adolescents. Untreated depression has serious repercussions and may even lead to suicide.

In today’s day and age, it is somewhat unlikely that an adolescent will come crying to their parents with an emotional problem. In our society, crying in public is not seen as an adult act, and most adolescents are at a stage where they are trying to prove that they are can be treated like adults. The fact is, however, that they are in the process of becoming adults. Therefore there are times that they do need adult intervention to sort out matters. But for teens, asking for help is like accepting the fact that they have not grown up yet. Moreover, they are too caught up with their own emotions to ask for help, and the adults fail to understand that intervention is required in certain areas.

Developing a healthy relationship with your children helps, but it may not be possible to draw them out every time. The options for treating depression in children are limited. Therefore it is essential that you understand the potential situations that can cause depression. It is also pertinent that you realize the various initial signs of depression in children so that you can identify the potential and address it before it is too late. You should be especially careful if your child has been through a chronic illness or lost a loved one. Neglect or abuse can also bring on symptoms of depression.

The following are some of the symptoms to watch for:

Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
Lack of concentration
Drop in grades in school
Some physical symptoms like headaches, low energy, insomnia or inability to stay awake and loss of appetite may also indicate prevalence of depression. Behavioral changes like irritability and belligerence also suggest that the child has some mental health issues. If your child is spending more time alone and is missing school, it is important to investigate this new behavior. In fact any change in behavior that shows negative patterns should be enough to raise an alarm for you to address the problem.

Depression is a clinical illness like any other medical condition and should be treated as such. It is not advisable to administer habit forming drugs like antidepressants to youngsters. Parental support is a prerequisite for treating depression naturally as children are not fully equipped to handle depression on their own. Some things that you should do are listed below:

Respect your child’s problems - They may seem to be trivial to you but remember that they appear as real challenges to teens.
Respect his/her privacy and avoid talking about his problems in front of other people - Try to put yourself in his position and see how you would feel if someone was do the same to you.
Understand that teens develop imaginary fears - Many times it is just a minor inability, say dancing that makes them stay at home rather than go out and enjoy themselves. Youngsters are very good at identifying with parents. Talk to your child about how you got out of similar problems in your childhood.
Encourage your child to go and talk to a counselor in school if it has one - Many schools have psychologists who are experts in dealing with adolescent depression.
Except in the unfortunate event of a severe depression, treatment should be restricted to natural remedies for depression . If you find yourself unable to tackle your child’s depression on your own, the best alternative is to convince him that a psychiatrist can help. It is better that your child chooses that option upon his/her own volition. Your child will be more receptive to treatment in this case.



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