As a parent, all you really want for your child is for them to be happy and successful. While promoting their happiness and success seems like a simple task, it’s something that gets difficult as your child gets older. As your teen starts making more decisions, being more independent, and having life experiences, many parents struggle letting them make those decisions and have those experiences. There’s a compulsive desire to direct them past the difficult parts of life, in order to protect them. And as parents, we often jump to conclusions. Again, it’s a compulsion rooted in love. If your child is sad, you jump in with offers of things to help them be happier. From the years 2005-2014, the prevalence of depression in teens increased significantly. It can be hard to differentiate between whether your teen is being moody, or if there are underlying depressive issues that need to be addressed.

Why is the prevalence of depression increasing?

 

Over the past few decades, we’ve seen teens being more open with depression and their feelings. This is a good thing, and doesn’t necessarily account for the increase. This also isn’t something that can be explained away with alcohol or substance abuse; the correlation isn’t there, while the depression still is. The increase in depression also isn’t affected by the composition of the parental structure within the home(one parent vs two vs no parents). Results as to why depression rates have increased over the last few years are inconclusive, which means that was is most important isn’t the statistics, but it’s your individual child.

 

What are the signs of depression?

 

The signs of depression in teens can include mood changes, persistent sadness and irritability, withdrawal from friends and family, a decrease in performance in school, loss or major change in eating or sleeping habits, lack of energy, and difficulty concentrating. However, it’s important to remember that experiencing one or more of these symptoms doesn’t automatically classify your child as depressed.

 

What can I, as a parent, do to help my teen?

 

The most important thing you can do, is to listen. If your child is struggling, it’s incredibly important for the dialogue to be 90% listening on your part. And with that other 10%, don’t try to solve the problem or offer up a solution. Instead, help them problem solve. Giving them the intellectual tools needed to think critically and solve their problems are so valuable, and one of the best things you can do for your child.