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Teenage depression is a common illness but the different form it takes on sometimes depends upon the childhood environment. Anxiety is one of the common forms of depression. It can occur from genetics or from the environment a teen experienced throughout their life.
Some teenagers who suffer from anxiety had childhood stress brought on by:
• Stressed out and neglected parents
• Expectations of high grades
• Childhood abuse
• Constant tension within the home
• Family responsibilities
• Emotionally unavailable parents
Due to these factors, the teenager never fully learned the proper ways to deal with their emotions. Remember, children intimidate what their parents do and when a child sees how a parent handles their problems, the child (who is now a teenager), follows the same approach.
Cutting is a form of control for many teenagers. When teenagers feel sad or upset, the way they cope is by cutting or scratching their body. This is a form of self-injury, or SI, where the cuts are deep enough to break the skin and bleed. Many teenagers will use a razor and anytime they feel upset or helpless, they will cut themselves.
Although cutting is more common among females, males also have been reported using self injury to cope with their depression as well. Teenagers will cut themselves on their wrist, arms, legs, or bellies; areas which are hidden, but can also possibly be seen by others. When the cuts heal, they leave scars and only the teen knows what they are from and it becomes their own secret as they controlled this behavior.
The teenage years are not something a child is normally prepared for. One day they are daddy's little girl, and the next day they are trying to ward off boys whose hormones are racing at high speeds.
Many times, teenagers find a loss of control through these years and try to regain some control over their emotions. Teenage bodies are changing each and every day at rapid speeds and many teenagers do not know who to turn to or how to ask for help. They feel the only person they can trust with what is happening inside is their own self.
Teenagers become secretive and may use different excuses of why they don't want to participate in activities they once loved. Teenagers who are suffering from depression will begin to feel they have no control over their emotions or thoughts. They may begin to experiment with different forms of coping mechanisms.
One of the hardest things for a teenager is losing the feeling of self-control. The combination of hormones, body changes, chemical changes, and social class changes can be too many differences; a teen just loses their footing and slips into a depression.
For teenagers and young adults, the feeling of sadness is normal. When the feelings do not disappear and stick around for an extended amount of time of a couple of weeks to a few months; then this should become a concern.
Teenage sadness can dominate one's life and relationships with family and friends when they begin to disappear. The feeling that nothing can go right becomes difficult for a depressed teen to handle alone. Hopelessness begins to take over and the rest of the teenager's life is affected.
From low school attendance and low grades to running away, teenage depression is not easy for the teen experiencing these emotions. Many try alcohol or drugs while others try suicide, just to try and stop the pain they continual feel.
Some signs of teenage sadness are:
• Sad mood
• Difficulty sleeping
• Loss of energy
• Difficulty concentrating
• Frequent thoughts and signs of death and suicide
• Social isolation
• Neglect of clothing or appearance
If you think your teenager is suffering from depression, approach them in a supportive manner and seek help.
The anger which is associated with teenage depression comes in different forms but the significance of the intensity of anger is well defined. When a teen feels there is no one who can help them with their feelings of depression, they react in two different ways.
• Repress anger and withdrawing from the situation or
• Defiant and destruction of property
Depression can take all shapes and forms and how the teenager reacts to their feelings of sadness, anxiety, and helplessness, will come with each individual situation.
Some forms of teenage anger are physical and verbal. Below are a few signs of a teenager suffering from depression:
• Negative expressions – prejudice, hurtful gossip
• Antisocial behavior
• Harming others – physically
• Harming themselves
• Disruptive and destructive – punching a wall
If you feel your teen is showing any of these signs of anger for an extended period of time, consult a therapist who understands how to approach teen depression.
For teenagers who are suffering from depression and use cutting as a way to cope with their pains, the long term effects need to be discussed immediately.
Although cutting may give teenagers relief from the sadness and anxiety of depression, it is only a temporary relief. Whatever the issue was which triggered the emotions, was never dealt with and still lurks around.
Once a teenager begins cutting, they do not mean to continue with this coping mechanism. The trouble is stopping this behavior becomes a difficult task and can lead to deeper cutting to where stitches or hospitalization may be required. Infections can occur if the teen's use dirty cutting tools.
For example, some tools teens use are:
• Exacto knives
• Sharp edge of the tab of a can of soda
Cutting can become a compulsive behavior. Teens use certain behaviors to cope with their depression. Eventually what happens is anytime the teen feels depressed, the brain will learn to associate the sad feelings with cutting. This self-injury behavior becomes an addiction, just like a drug or alcohol addiction.
The misguided feelings of a teenager coping with depression can bring on behavior that many parents would never think of. When a teenager feels there is no one to talk to about their thoughts and feelings, many will seek out alternative ways over finding a supportive person to speak with.
One of the most common drugs depressed teenagers use is Marijuana. Other names for this drug are weed, pot, ganga, Mary Jane, or reefer. Pot can be smoked or eaten to experience the affects the teen desires to forget about their problems.
Parents can look for certain products like cigarette rolling papers, a pipe or bowl with filters, a water bong, or a DIY bong (made from soda bottles or piping).
Teenagers suffering from depression who have used Marijuana will think they can trick their parents into not thinking they are on drugs. Many will act normal and try to hold conversations as if they were fully sober.
Some physical signs a parent can look for if they suspect their teenager is abusing drugs:
• Pupils are dilated
• Cigarette rolling papers
• Smell on clothing, hair, in room, or in car
• Eyes are bloodshot
• Laziness and no motivation
• Less coordination
As children begin to become adolescents, there is an overall approach to parenting throughout the teenage years which allows children to distance themselves from the family. This is expected when teenager's bodies begin to change and their hormones begin to create awkwardness within their mind with certain body images of both mental and physical differences.
Due to the uneasy feelings occurring inside, teenagers begin to fight with their parents or guardians. Fights can begin from the slightest stimulant of asking where they are going with their friends to requesting a chore to be completed. Although this does sound like normal teenage behavior, the concern comes when there is never a rest from the fighting. Each and every day is a constant battle to try and converse and live under the same roof.
If you are finding your teenager is in constant battle mode and it has been lingering around for quite some time, consider consulting a therapist who specializes in teenage depression.
One of the easiest substances to obtain for a depressed teenager is alcohol. Although the legal buying and drinking age is 21, teens can find ways of getting their coping mechanism choice through different sources.
If parents of teenagers are suspecting their teen is abusing alcohol, here are a few signs to look for without having to ask.
• Slurred speech
• Poor coordination
• Smelling of alcohol on clothing or breath
• Bottles missing from the liquor cabinet
• Excessive need for water
• Strange mood
• Liquor cabinet is watered down
There is no difference if your teen is drinking beer or vodka, alcohol should not be used by a teenager with depression. If your teenager comes home drunk, deal with the intoxication the following morning. If the teen is old enough to drive, their keys should be taken away and explained about the zero-tolerance law for underage drivers.
If your depressed teen is experiencing serious alcoholism, consult a therapist and seek treatment.
When a teenager is feeling depressed and doesn't know why they are experiencing these emotions, they feel ashamed and have no where to turn for help. Many teens hear about cutting and feel by giving it a try, would make them seem grown up, popular, or even daring. Today, since cutting is more openly spoken about concerning teenage depression, it may seem like the newest trend but cutting is a serious problem.
Depression is not an illness to take lightly. Adults have a hard time dealing with the symptoms so imagine a teenager's trouble. Cutting is considered an unhealthy coping mechanism and practiced by teens that have not learned ways to deal with strong emotions, stressors, and traumatic relationship issues.
Younger teens have the urge to use cutting as a form of dealing with their depression because it makes them feel more in control of their situation. This becomes a non-healthy way of relieving their tension and needs to be corrected before it can get out of control.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|