School holidays can be a testing time for families. Parents try to find new ways to keep children and teens occupied, while young people themselves may be missing school friends. They may try to assert their own independence. Or they may simply be bored, no matter what activities are available. But what if problems are a symptom of something more concerning?
Many people wonder if depression in young people is real. In the case of teens, adults may attribute symptoms of depression to normal teen emotional swings. But experts and paediatricians point out that children and teens really can get depressed, and may be afflicted with the true illness of depression.
What causes depression in young people?
As in adults, depression in young people may have multiple causes, or one cause that varies among individuals. There are some factors that are unique to certain stages of life, however.
Children, like adults, may become depressed because of genetics. They may have inherited a tendency toward depression, and perhaps there was a trigger that caused it to surface.
Children may become depressed due to parents’ relationship difficulties, as they are uniquely affected by their immediate family’s dynamic.
Bullying at school is also something children may have to face that is not a factor for adults. The same goes for cyber-bullying, which can have devastating consequences. Low self-esteem can also develop through comparing themselves to peers on social media.
A child with a tendency toward perfectionism may be more prone to depression as well. Children with this tendency may ‘beat themselves up’ unnecessarily over failures or perceived failures.
This age group is considered particularly prone to depression, possibly due in part to the hormonal upheavals of the teenage years. But be careful. It’s easy for adults to take this information and think ‘it’s just hormones’ and therefore think the depression does not need to be addressed. Experts agree that depression, regardless of its cause, is something that should be addressed and treated.
Teens may also be dealing with the bullying/self-esteem issues mentioned above, or even just ‘harmless’ teasing. They may be experiencing their first crush; or rejection from the opposite sex, or indeed same sex. And realising one’s sexuality and then facing the prospect of coming out is an additional and potentially enormous minefield for those affected. (This download might help in this instance.)
Other causes may be purely physiological. Maybe nothing is particularly wrong in the teen’s life, but his or her brain just seems to run in a depressed mode.
What are the signs?
Here are some warning signs of depression in young people.
Parents should be vigilant for any talk about suicide or morbid fascination with death. Other sources point out that television and films should be carefully monitored. Parents should be wary both of potentially depressing subject matter, and of the psychological effects of TV viewing in general (studies show that children who watch six or more hours of TV a day are more prone to depression).
- Sleep disturbances or changes in sleep habits
- Sudden increase or decrease in appetite
- Angry outbursts and/or irritability
- Lack of interest in social activities or friends
- ‘Touchy’ about perceived rejection
Some of the signs of depression in teens are like those in children; some are different. As with children, parents of teens should be keenly aware of any indications of suicidal thoughts. Music, films, and television are also sources of potentially depressing images and subject matter – although it’s important to emphasise that an attraction to these may be a symptom rather than a cause. Also, many teens attracted to ‘alternative’ subcultures can find solace and support there. Non-mainstream interests can be a positive indication of independent thinking and inner confidence.
Other signs may include:
- Weight loss or gain
- Binge eating and/or obsessive dieting
- Angry outbursts/yelling at parents
- Withdrawal from social activities and family
How can hypnotherapy help?
If your child shows some of these signs over a period of time, consider whether they would be open to seeing someone who could help them. Hypnotherapy can be an extremely effective way of working with depression in young people on a number of levels. In particular, it’s significant that in hypnotherapy they don’t have to talk about their issues if they don’t want to, or feel able to. But, like adults, they appreciate the deeply calming relaxation involved in hypnotherapy. And this can help them gain perspective and develop control over their issues, and then work towards clarity and understanding. If they want to give it a quick try, this download might be a good starting point.
I am a qualified hypnotherapist, experienced in working with depression (see my success stories). I’ve completed the acclaimed Uncommon Knowledge course ‘How To Lift Depression Fast’. And I have good experience in with working with young people, including treating depression. I offer a free 15 minute phone consultation (07947 475721), and although I am based in London, UK I can work remotely wherever in the world you may be. So please do get in touch if depression affects you or your child – I can help.