This is a time for questioning one's beliefs, distancing oneself from parents, and challenging societal norms. It is a time for finding one's own place in the world in search of a unique identify, life goals and aspirations. It is a critical time but also a difficult period of transition from childhood to young adulthood, from a place of dependence to one of independence. Adolescents find themselves challenging authority, while at the same time anxiously needing it.
3) Depression is probably one of the trickiest conditions to diagnose in adolescence because of the vast differences of its clinical presentation from adolescent to another. While some adolescents act out, others act in, making it that much more difficult for adults to notice that something may be wrong. What do I mean by acting in? Any behavior that will not be causing much noise and that will not be necessarily noticeable:
- being socially withdrawn
- self-injuring, including cutting, restricting food or vomiting after eating, bingeing
- keeping to oneself and isolating
- not making too many friends outside of school
- not caring much about school and grades or the opposite, overachieving and striving for perfection
- thinking about suicide and death
5) Sometimes, most often unintentionally, parents and siblings may be connected to the cause or unknowing contributors to the adolescents' depression such as in cases of divorce, adoption, family discord, etc., which brings up feelings of shame, guilt, self-blame, anger and sadness. Inviting a stranger into the family dynamic such as a therapist, school social worker or psychiatrist may feel overwhelming and traumatic for some families.
Naturally, as parents, we do the best we can and if things go wrong, we blame ourselves. What's important though is to recognize that we can only do so much alone and that sometimes, it's okay to turn to other people for help. Just like we take our kids to the doctor when they are sick, it's okay to take our kids to a therapist, when they are not feeling well.
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Do you have questions about depression and adolescence or have experienced it yourself? Leave a comment with your story below.
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