How to Cure Depression in Teens

Spot the Signs of Depression and Isolation

Depression can be hard to spot, especially in teens or young adults who are already known to be moody, hostile, or reckless. All young adults are going to exhibit some of the symptoms some of the time—that’s just part of the growing pains of transitioning into an adult. But, when these signs remain persistent and begin to impact daily functioning, it is time to intervene and address the issue. There is no easy or fast cure for depression in teens, however being aware and knowing what to look for is the first step for parents to take.

The First Step: Know What To Look For

Depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological and social factors. For teens and young adults, it can manifest in a variety of negative ways, such a self-harm, sexual behavior, or drug and alcohol use. But it’s not always manifested by “acting out,” young adults can also become withdrawn and isolated when suffering from depression. Detecting depression is difficult, especially when teens already tend to push parents away, but if they exhibit multiple warning signs, it’s crucial that a parent or loved one steps in.

Warning signs of depression include:

  • Anger or irritability (especially in young men)
  • Withdrawn or isolated
  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Hostile, grumpy, or easily loses temper
  • Loss of energy
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Noticeable weight loss or weight gain
  • Reckless behavior
  • Unexplained aches and pains: headaches, sore backs, achy joints
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Talk of suicide
A Parent’s Love Is Not Enough

Despite best efforts, a parent or loved one’s support is often not enough. Reaching out for professional help is the first step in helping a teen or young adult overcome depression.

If a parent recognizes depression or isolation in their child, most of the time hearing it from them won’t work to affect any change. They need to hear it from an outside perspective, like a peer or therapy instructor, because no matter how much a parent loves them, hearing it from them alone is not going to be enough for the message to sink in.

What To Do: Get Third-Party Help

There are often broken or unhealthy family relationship dynamics at play. A young adult’s depression can create an unbalanced structure within the home—especially when it manifests as anger and hostility. In attempting to communicate, tensions usually run high and tempers often reach the boiling point. Over time, this could create a vicious parent-child cycle that needs intervention. An external influence can help to restructure these relationships and provide communication tools that can be used going forward.

Getting better also requires understanding the underlying cause. In these circumstances, parents and children rarely have a clear perspective on the situation, which makes pinpointing the underlying cause next to impossible. Furthermore, the cause of their depression may not be something a teen or young adult wants to share with their parents. A therapist can work to identify and address the underlying issues that cause depression and can help to develop the management and coping skills needed to overcome them.

Sometimes overcoming depression requires being completely removed from the destructive environment. A treatment program, like wilderness therapy, provides an opportunity to break the cycle of depression and make drastic lifestyle changes. In nature, and with the support of peers and instructors, young adults are able to open up about their issues and begin to understand where their hostility and anger stem from. And nature is an environment where transformative change can really take hold. Depression may always be a struggle for certain young adults, but with tools and lifestyle changes that wilderness therapy brings, it can be managed in a healthy way.

With teens and young adults, recognizing the symptoms of depression is the first key step to recovery. If parents and family members are aware of the signs and vigilant, they can immediately seek the outside help of trained professionals, and consider various treatment options. Recovering from depression isn’t easy: for the young adult or for their family, but early detection can help one the challenges of suffering in isolation.

Take any talk of suicide seriously. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 and provides free assistance and support. Reach it by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

For more information and suggestions and how to cure depression in teens, contact Rites of Passage Wilderness at (800)794-0980.