It is important to remember that depression isn’t the same as being down in the dumps or feeling sad for a while. In young people, depression doesn't usually last more than a couple of weeks. Everybody's life has its ups and downs. It’s perfectly normal to feel sad or depressed after difficult events, failures, or frustrations. For example, when a teenager experiences a breakup, we expect them to have difficult emotions which affect their behaviour. The breakup may create a general lack of motivation that affects their social life. All of these changes, while they can be alarming, are probably related to emotional pain, and not linked to a mental health condition such as depression. When a triggering event creates emotional upheaval, it's usually a sign that it’ll be a passing phase.
But sometimes, even long after the event, happiness does not come back and the young person continues to feel unhappy, lonely, and even hopeless. If these feelings persist, they can develop into a mental health disorder and manifest themselves in a variety of ways.
For teens, depression is similar to being depressed, but it's defined as a state of deep sadness that usually lasts several weeks. It varies from person to person, but in general, depression can last from a few weeks to several months, depending on the situation. For some, depressive episodes can continue for more than two years. It’s important to remember that someone can have more than one depressive episode in their lifetime.
Symptoms of depression are intense, persistent, and don’t improve with time.
- A young person affected by depression will feel it in various areas of their life (school, work, physical health, relationships with family and friends, etc.).
- Depression also produces long-lasting changes in behaviour, mood, and attitudes. For example, an enthusiastic, active person may become quiet, sad, and withdrawn for months on end, while an academically gifted student might decline in school performance or fail the grade.
- Most of the time, a depressed person will feel like doing nothing for long periods of time and lose interest in the things they used to enjoy.
- Some physical ailments may appear or reflect psychological distress, such as: stomach aches, headaches, muscle tension, or severe fatigue.
- There may also be suicidal ideation and the depressed youth may turn to self-destructive behaviours (e.g., habitual drinking, self-harm, lack of hygiene and daily routine, etc.).
Symptoms of Depression
- Sadness and irritability.
- Lack of interest and pleasure in activities.
- Significant weight gain or loss.
- Sleep problems (difficulty sleeping, sleeping too much or falling asleep all the time).
- Extreme fatigue or loss of energy (everything is an extraordinary effort).
- Excessive feelings of worthlessness (low self-esteem) and guilt.
- Difficulties with attention and concentration.
- Thoughts of death, or suicidal thoughts.
- Difficulty meeting basic needs (eating, bathing, etc.).
- Changes in eating habits.
Depression is a state of sadness and temporary dissatisfaction.
I Think my Child is Depressed: What Should I Do?
Have a Conversation About it
You can share your concerns and your desire to help them. You should be open, empathetic, attentive, and supportive.
Fortunately, all young people can overcome their problems! Since every person is unique, therapies can differ. Some professionals prefer pharmacological treatments (taking medication), while others offer therapeutic follow-up, or a combination of these two approaches (medication and therapy). Your child may see a doctor, child psychiatrist, or psychologist as soon as possible, depending on their age.
Taking Care of Yourself
It can be very difficult to watch your child suffer. You should make sure that you take care of yourself during this difficult period. The professional counsellors at LigneParents are there for you!