As parents we strive to keep our kids, safe, healthy and happy. We tire endlessly in this pursuit from the minute they’re born to when they leave the nest. From baby proofing, to being a personal chauffeur to their many activities; monitoring their online activity to trying to hide vegetables in their dinner- its a job that never does seem to end. Teen depression is a factor that can complicate our job even further.

Despite our best efforts to keep them safe, healthy and happy, it is increasingly difficult to protect our kids from mental health concerns like depression. According to the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), depression affects roughly 11% of adolescents by age 18.

If you are unsure as to whether your own child may be suffering from depression, here are 6 signs to look for:

1. Intense and Frequent Mood Swings

All teens struggle with raging hormones that do make mood swings just par for the course when raising a teen. However, teens with depression experience mood swings on another level. They display more frequent and intense mood swings in and out of anger, sadness and irritability.

2. A Uncharacteristic Drop in Academics

A drop in grades or sudden apathy for school in general can be a sign that your teen is struggling with depression. Cutting classes, lateness or missing assignments can be a signal that something isn’t quite right. Especially, when your child was one that had been previously a pretty good student. 

3. Changes in Social Behavior

Many teens isolate when they become depressed. They stop seeing friends, retreat to their rooms and stop talking so much about what’s going on in their day. Other kids who are depressed will have a change in social group, maybe with some peers that you may find questionable. To manage how they feel they may begin to engage in some self-destructive behavior. Changes in social behavior are another big sign that your teen may be struggling with depression.

4. A Loss of Interest in Their Favorite Activities

If your child has stopped engaging in some of the things you know they once really loved and enjoyed, it’s an indication that something is not right. Apathy and lack of interest are signs of depression. Yes some children do “grow out” of activities, be it sports, music or art. But if what they loved to do is not replaced by a new passion or hobby, it may be that they are really struggling to feel happy engaging in anything- even the things that used to bring them immense joy. 

5. A Lack of Motivation

I know teens are generally not known for being super motivated. However teens with depression you will see a significant decrease in their motivation level. This may show up in school, in their desire to go to extra curricular activities, see friends, or comply with chores around the home. 

6. A Family History of Depression

Depression can be genetic. So if you have a family history of depression, there is a chance that your teen will struggle with depression as well. 

If you have noticed any of these signs in your teen, it is important to seek help. You can start with your school guidance counselor or pediatrician to get their feedback on if they think depression may be the cause. 

Therapy can help teens to cope with their symptoms, learn their triggers and develop healthy ways of managing their emotions. If you are concerned for your teen’s safety or mental health, please contact us today. 

Stay Shining,

Jamie Vollmoeller, LCSW

Is your teen irritable, difficult to communicate with or breaking all the rules? Are they struggling with brushing their teeth and keeping good hygiene? Or is your teen making poor life choice and  hanging with the wrong crowd?

If your teen is angry about their life or is hurt easily, they may need some additional supports from a teen therapist. Teens develop anxiety and depression from a host of issue: life transitions like divorce or a move, bullying, peer anxiety and body image concerns to name a few. The transition in the teenage years from being a child to becoming an adult comes with it’s own unique set of stressors. For an adolescent losing a friend, ending a relationship or struggling academically can be a big loss for them. Working with a therapist can help your teen learn to overcome these obstacles, find their inner strengths and move towards more productive choices and outcomes. 

Why does a teenager need therapy?

At Long Island EMDR our therapists help teens with self-harm behaviors, suicidal thinking, teen drinking, and low self-esteem. Working with a teen therapist can help your teen to develop: a strong moral compass, self-esteem, and healthy coping skills to manage life’s challenges. 

What happens when teens do not have a healthy outlet to work through their feelings, needs and emotions?

Adolescents have trouble making decisions and often struggle with impulsivity and peer pressure. This can lead to self-harming behavior, poor self-image, drinking, drug use, eating difficulties, poor school performance, defiance and oppositional behavior, as well as other acting out behaviors. Teens usually turn to their peers for advise in absence of a trusted adult relationship. Which as we know, teens advising other teens on major life choices- may not be the best situation for you or your child. 

What can a therapist say or do that I cannot?

As parents, we always want to be our teens go-to person. The person they come to when they need help, support or comfort. Many teens however, feel uncomfortable talking with their parents about what is bothering them. Whether it be the are afraid of getting in trouble or do not want to cause their parents any more stress- teens often just don’t go to parents if they are having a hard time. A therapist is a safe-place where they can share their concerns and experiences. If you think about it, there was probably a great deal you kept from your parents and tried to handle on your own when you were teen. Being a teenager can feel overwhelming, frustrating, and scary. Having their own “person” to confide in can provide that safe place to explore their feelings, needs, difficulties and find healthy ways of coping and moving forward in life. It can also be the start to fostering that relationship with you again. By incorporating family therapy, we break down some of the barriers that keep your child from coming to you and teach them that they can speak with you when they are having difficulties. Counseling can help teenagers to build positive self-talk and learn to love themselves. Lastly, learning positive coping skills boosts self-confidence and promotes a healthy release of anger.

How does counseling with a teen therapist work? 

For the first session, parents and guardians will come in for the initial intake. After that, teenagers receive individual counseling to foster independence and leadership. Often, we start rapport building the first few sessions so your teen feels comfortable opening up to their therapist. We encourage family sessions when family conflict is impacting the teen or family dynamic and will prepare your teen to discuss, calmly and effectively their concerns and difficulties so that you may be a part of the solution. We also teach teens a range of skills depending on their concerns and difficulties including: self-regulation techniques, anger management skills, cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, relaxation techniques, non-violent communication skills and conflict resolution skills. Essentially, each session can be a positive experience of building self-acceptance and self-care skills.At Long Island EMDR we help teens to form their identifies and help them express themselves in a healthy and positive manner. 

If your teen needs help with working through anxiety, depression, ADHD, self-esteem, or oppositional behaviors contact us today to speak with a teen therapist.

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