Depression and anxiety are serious mental health conditions that affect people of all ages, even children and teens. Between hormonal changes and other life changes, it’s sometimes hard to determine how your teen is really feeling.
Talking to your teen about depression, anxiety, and their feelings is very important. Your teen needs to understand their feelings and that there’s always help if they have a mental health problem like depression or anxiety.
At Carolina Wellness Psychiatry, PLLC, our team members are experts in all types of mental health disorders. If your teen is suffering from depression or anxiety, one of our psychiatry specialists can help. Our specialists include Dr. Elizabeth Bullard, Dr. Sarah Gilbert, Dr. Allison Foroobar, and Dr. Brian Moore.
If you’re worried about your teen, Dr. Allison Foroobar is a certified adolescent and child psychiatrist.
Recognizing the signs of a problem
The teenage years are filled with a lot of emotions and acting out. If your teen is going through mood swings, it could be just a normal part of this time in their life, or they may have depression or anxiety.
It’s important to understand the differences between normal teenage behaviors and symptoms of a mental health disorder. Signs of depression in your teen can include:
- Frequent anger outbursts
- Loss of interest in activities
- Difficulty at school
- Running away from home
- Self-esteem problems
- Changes in their sleep
- Drug and alcohol abuse
If your teen is suffering from anxiety, you may notice that they worry about even little things or are extremely sensitive to any form of criticism. They may also avoid participating in new activities or have trouble concentrating at school
How to ask your child about their mental health
If you’re concerned that your child is dealing with depression or anxiety, it’s important to talk to them about it. If you don’t intervene, your teen could end up with suicidal thoughts or an attempt on their life.
It’s often tricky to talk to a teen about their feelings, but necessary when you’re concerned about their well-being. When you’re ready to talk to your teen, follow these suggestions for the best outcome:
When you first address your teen about their behavior or feelings, they may completely shut down or become angry. This can be frustrating, but don’t give up.
It’s often hard for teens to express their feelings, especially when they’re having a hard time. Make sure you let them know that you’re ready to listen and acknowledge their feelings. Don’t push too hard, but keep emphasizing that you’re concerned and on their side.
Recognize their feelings
Don’t ever try to sweep your teen’s feelings under the rug. Even if they seem completely irrational with their fears, acknowledge how they’re feeling and remain supportive. Take their emotions seriously, as they could be a cry for help.
Trust your instincts
In some cases, your teen may completely deny they’re having any problems with their emotions. However, you know them well, and if you feel as though something is wrong, always trust your gut.
Even if your teen isn’t willing to open up to you, find someone else they trust who can help. Just getting your teen to talk about their depression or anxiety is a huge step in the right direction.
Most importantly, listen
Once your teen does open up to you, resist the urge to cut in and start lecturing them on their behavior. Listening is a key component when it comes to getting your teen to open up about their feelings.
It’s important for your teen to understand that you’re on their side and support them 100%. This means listening uninterrupted while they open up about their struggle.
What are your next steps?
After you’ve had the first talk with your teen about their mental health, it’s important to follow up and get professional help when needed. The next steps are vital to your teen’s mental health:
- Be supportive
- Seek help
- Explore treatment options
- Get them exercising
- Check in with them regularly
Our team members are experts in treating both depression and anxiety. If your teen is suffering from either one, our adolescent psychiatrist, Dr. Allison Foroobar helps you and your teen find a treatment option that helps.
Typically, treatment involves both cognitive behavioral therapy and medications. The type of therapy needed depends on the severity of your teen’s mental health condition and their overall health.
Medications need to be monitored closely in teens, as some antidepressants can cause suicidal thoughts in teens and young adults. Make sure you’re monitoring your teen and get them to their regularly scheduled appointments.
If you think your teen is dealing with depression or anxiety, don’t hesitate to call us at 919-446-3232, or request a consultation with our psychiatry experts using our online booking tool.