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Parents Are Key in Preventing Teen Depression

Teen girl struggling with depression covering her face with her hands

As rates of depression increase among adolescents, doctors and researchers are encouraging parents to monitor their teens’ mental health in addition to their physical health. Actively monitoring teen mental health can allow for early intervention and prevent symptoms of mental illness from progressing. Communication between parents and teens is an integral part of monitoring teen mental health.

Many teens silently struggle with symptoms of mental illness because they don’t know how to begin a conversation or because they worry about the stigma attached to mental illness. As a parent, you can use these tips to help a depressed teen begin discussing mental health:

  • Write down the topics you’d like to discuss with your teen
  • Research various mental health conditions and their symptoms to prepare for the conversation  
  • Let your teen know that you’re willing to talk 
  • Invite rather than force your teen to talk 
  • Avoid trivializing or minimizing their symptoms or feelings 

Reasons for Teen Depression

According to the 2018 Pew Research Center survey of teens aged 13 to 17, seven out of ten teens in the United States believed anxiety and depression were common among their peers. Experts cite academic and social pressures as reasons for this prevalence of anxiety and depression among teens. For example, around 61% of teens said they felt a high level of pressure to succeed academically, and nearly 30% said they felt extreme pressure surrounding their appearance and fitting in socially.

In some cases, social media and depression can also accompany each other. For example, if a teen is being cyberbullied, social media may make teens feel that bullying is inescapable. Likewise, teens who spend a lot of time on social media may neglect physical activity and get inadequate sleep, putting them at greater risk for depression and anxiety.

Teen Depression Statistics

Recent studies of teen mental health show significant increases in the rate at which teens experience mental illness. Between 2007 and 2017, there was a 59% increase in the number of teens who reported experiencing depression. 

According to a Pew Research survey from 2017: 

  • 13% of teens in America said they’d experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year
  • 20% of teen girls (almost 2.4 million individuals) had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the previous year
  • In contrast, only 7% of teen boys said they’d experienced a major depressive episode

If you are concerned about the signs of depression in teen girls or boys and you’re worried they could also be accompanied by substance misuse, please contact Next Generation Village to learn about rehab and treatment programs for young people and teens. Help for your teen is available.

Sources:

National Institute of Mental Health. “Teen Depression.” Accessed September 17, 2019.

Geiger, A.W.; Davis, Leslie. “A growing number of American teenagers—particularly girls—are facing depression.” Pew Research Center, July 12, 2019. Accessed September 17, 2019.

Vickroy, Donna. “With rise in teen depression, experts advise parents to teach coping skills to their children.” Chicago Tribune, August 23, 2019. Accessed September 17, 2019.

Young, Karen. “Talking To Your Teen About Mental Health and Depression (Without Saying ‘Mental’ or ‘Depression’).” Hey Sigmund. Accessed September 17, 2019.

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