While it’s no easy task for parents of teens to distinguish growing pains from clinical symptoms of depression, it’s critical to learn to separate fact from fiction. Here are eleven most prevalent myths to help with this task:
Myth #1 Teens can’t become clinically depressed—they’re just moody
The National Institute of Mental Health reports that up to 8 percent of adolescents experience depression. That’s why it’s critical for parents to learn to distinguish between typical teen moodiness and behavior that could indicate depression.
Myth #2 Adolescent depression looks like adult depression
Adolescent depression manifests itself differently. Rather than appearing blue, teens may become defiant and irritable. Some get labeled troublemakers because they challenge authority. This, in turn, prevents them from getting the help they need. Or it can be a lack of emotions, says pediatrician Miriam Kaufman, MD. “For every sign of depression, the opposite is true.”
Myth #3 Depressed kids are loners
Depression can affect punks, perfectionists, popular kids-it doesn’t distinguish. Some teens socialize to distract themselves from isolating depression. The only common thread is that depressed teens tend to feel alone—even when surrounded by friends.
Myth #4 You’re better off not discussing depression with your child
Many parents worry they’ll make things worse if they discuss depression with their teens or that talking about suicide makes the child more likely to contemplate it. The fact is communication is key to understanding what’s going on in your teen’s head. Even if he doesn’t show it, he’ll appreciate that you care enough to ask how he’s feeling. Remember, you still can influence your child during adolescence.
Myth #5 You should strictly enforce limits with your depressed child
Taking away privileges from a depressed teen may fuel his despair. Make him accept responsibility for his behavior, but don’t punish him for the way he feels. “Remember, kids are driven to be normal. So if they can’t do those things that they normally do, they feel more and more alienated. What you need to do is acknowledge and remind yourself that if your child could do better, he would do better,” says Michigan psychologist Laurie Assadi.
Myth #6 You can’t do anything if your depressed teen refuses help
You don’t have to take “no” for an answer. If she’s adamant about refusing help, consult a therapist for parenting tips and advice on how to coax her into therapy. Spend some time with your son or daughter, listening, planning activities and encourage them in healthy living skills. You can also coordinate a plan with your teen’s school and engage her friends to be part of the support team.
Myth #7 Antidepressants are unsuitable for teenagers
While antidepressants pose risks for a small percent of youngsters, they shouldn’t be ruled out. Letting the risk of side effects drive the decision-making process may put your child at greater risk, says Kenneth Duckworth, MD, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). If they are prescribed, both doctor and parents should closely monitor the teen’s behavior.
Myth #8 Depression affects teenage boys and girls equally
It’s twice as prevalent in girls. Researchers think the inequality may have to do with the different way boys and girls experience and respond to stress. A recent study showed that girls experience twice as many “interpersonal stressors” as boys, and reacted more strongly to those stressors than did their male counterparts.
Myth #9 Depressed teens will get better if they resume their normal routine
Parents often assume that their teen is out of sorts because she stopped following her daily routine. The truth is, depression can make it too trying for youngsters to keep up with everyday rituals and once-cherished pastimes. If a teen is depressed, the everyday can seem overwhelming. That’s why parents should try to make reasonable accommodations rather than pushing their child to “keep up.
Myth #10 Parents will know if their teen is depressed
Unlike other mental health concerns, like panic attacks or nervous tics, the signs of depression aren’t so obvious. Some kids mask them so they won’t worry their parents. What’s more, parents may shrug off warning signs, confusing them with typical adolescence. Mental health experts advise listening to your inner voice.
Myth #11 Depression isn’t an inherited condition
The fact is, it runs in families. Frequently, if a teen has depression, one or more parents may also and it’s important that other family members get treatment too. The data shows when a mother gets treatment for her depression, her child often gets better.
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community