Teen depression – which can often lead to suicidal thoughts or attempts – is a big problem in Idaho. Parents may find it difficult to know how to cope with what their children are going through, and they may need guidance. The symptoms of depression can be debilitating, and teens need to know that someone will be there for them. It can be incredibly lonely and this is a mental health condition that is progressive in nature. Unless it is treated, it is likely to only get worse.
It can help for parents to better understand what teen depression is and how to be there to help their children through it. By taking the proper steps, parents can be a source of support for their teens to help them get the assistance they need to manage their symptoms.
What is Teen Depression and how does it Impact Adolescents in Idaho?
The teenage years can be extremely difficult for young people. Their minds and bodies are going through all sorts of changes, and it can be hard for them to cope with them. These changes have an impact on just about every aspect of their lives, including how they learn, how they think and how they act. These years are filled with stressful situations, and emotional ups and downs should be considered normal.
But sometimes teenagers experience overwhelming feelings of sadness that can last as long as several months at a time. Those feelings can make it hard for them to manage their day to day lives. They may not feel up to doing things they usually enjoy doing and their concentration can become impaired. These are just a few of the indicators that a teen could be struggling with depression.
Depression is a mental illness that can interfere with a person’s ability to handle their daily activities. It is characterized by constant feelings of emptiness and sometimes it can be accompanied by anxiety as well. When teens feel depressed, they may find it challenging to even get out of bed and face another day. And sometimes they physically cannot get out of bed at all.
Teen Suicide Statistics in Idaho
It is not uncommon for depression to progress as symptoms develop and get worse over time. Sometimes it can progress to the point of causing suicidal thoughts or even actions.
According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare:
- Idaho is considered to be one of the states with the highest suicide rates in the country.
- In 2016, it was the 8th highest with a rate of 20.8 for every 100,000 people.
- This number is 50% higher than the national rate.
- But the CDC recently updated that claim and it is now the 5th highest state in the nation for suicides.
- In Idaho, suicide is the leading cause of death for people ages 15-34 years old.
- Between 2013 and 2017, there were 110 school-aged children between the ages of 6 and 18 who died because of committing suicide.
- 25 of these deaths involved children who were age 14 or younger.
- 35% of Idaho youths stated that they have felt sad or hopeless.
- 21.7% of them admitted to feeling suicidal at some point in their lives.
- 18.4% of them made a plan to commit suicide.
- 9.7% of them attempted suicide.
Signs of Teen Depression
As a parent, it is very important for you to be able to identify signs of depression in your teen. Please keep in mind that it is very common for teenagers to keep their mental health symptoms a secret, so they may not be obvious. That is why you must remain diligent and check in with your child often to see how they are doing.
Some of the signs of teen depression include:
- Constantly feeling sad, anxious or empty.
- Feeling hopeless or like everything is going wrong in their lives.
- Feeling worthless, like they do not matter to anyone.
- Feeling guilty about things they may not have any control over.
- Feeling irritable most of the time.
- Becoming withdrawn from family and friends.
- Lower grades in school when they used to have good grades.
- Losing interest in hobbies and activities they really enjoy.
- Changes in their sleeping and eating habits.
- Always feeling tired, like they have no energy to do anything.
- Problems concentrating, with their memory or making decisions.
- Physical issues that have no real cause, such as stomach cramps and headaches.
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Signs of Possible Suicidal Ideation in Teenagers
Parents should be very careful to watch for signs of possible suicidal ideation in their teenagers. Some of these warning signs include:
- Feeling depressed or suffering from other mental health disorders.
- Feeling hopeless and worthless.
- Becoming detached from the people who love them.
- Becoming dependent upon alcohol and/or drugs.
- Talking about, writing about or drawing pictures about suicide or the afterlife.
- Not having a sense of purpose in their lives.
- Participating in reckless or risk-taking behaviors.
- Violent or strange behaviors.
- Giving away or throwing away their possessions.
- Looking for ways to take their own life, such as stockpiling pills or obtaining a weapon.
Even one of the above could be an indicator that a teen is considering suicide. Teen depression is very real, and it does not go away on its own. In fact, it tends to be progressive until something is done to interrupt its course, such as getting treatment.
Types of Depression Teens May Suffer From
Depression is a very broad term. There are several types of depression that commonly occur with teenagers in Idaho, and all over the world. It is important to be aware of what they are as a parent.
Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood
Adjustment disorder with depressed mood is an extreme emotional or behavioral reaction. It typically occurs within 3 months of a stressful life event when a teen experiences an abnormal reaction or serious emotional disturbance as a result of the event.
Not all stressful events are negative. In fact, it is very possible for teens to develop this mental health condition after a positive event has occurred too. There are many types of events that could trigger adjustment disorder with depressed mood. They include:
- The death of a parent.
- The birth of a sibling.
- Moving away from home.
- A serious injury or illness.
- Starting at new school.
- The wedding of a sibling.
- Parents’ divorce or separation.
Bipolar disorder is a form of depression that is very common in teenagers. It is characterized primarily by extreme changes in mood and behavior. Parents may notice that sometimes their teens seem extremely happy and much more energetic than they normally do. At other times, they can appear to be sad or down and not have much energy to do anything at all. This explains the difference between the manic and depressive episodes that are common in people with this condition.
Every teenager goes through ups and downs, and this is considered normal for this age. Their moods may shift so much that parents are not sure what “version” of their child they will be interacting with next. But with bipolar disorder, teenagers’ moods become extreme, and sometimes they can even act in dangerous ways.
Dysthymia, or dysthymic disorder as it is often called, is characterized by chronic, low-level depression. This form is not as severe, and getting diagnosed requires the presence of depressive symptoms for two years or more. It also has to include at least two of the following symptoms:
- Sleep changes; either insomnia or excessive amounts of sleep.
- Changes in energy levels; usually low energy and fatigue.
- Appetite changes; either overeating or poor appetite.
- Problems with concentration.
- Feeling indecisive.
- Feelings of hopelessness.
Dysthymia has fewer and less serious symptoms than depression, but it also lasts longer. It should never be considered a “minor” form of depression because it can be just as debilitating as major depressive disorder.
Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder is a mental health condition that is characterized by a severe, persistent low mood, a sense of despair and profound sadness. A teen’s mood may come off as irritable or they may exhibit signs of anxiety.
Depression can be triggered by a distressful life event, but quite often, it does not appear to have a cause. Episodes may occur repeatedly and in between, the teen’s moods may be mildly depressed.
Advice for Idaho Parents: How to Talk with Your Teen About Suicide
When talking with your teen about suicide, a direct approach is necessary. This should be something that you talk about regularly, but if you notice signs that they might be formulating a plan, you want to bring it out into the open quickly.
If you suspect your teen may be suicidal, the best thing to do is just ask them. Talk with them about what you have noticed and behaviors that may be concerning for you. If you are afraid to bring it up, it can make your teen feel like they have something they should be hiding from you. They may feel more alone than ever.
Talking with your teen may be exactly what you need to open the door to getting them the mental health treatment they need.
Managing Teen Depression
If you think your teenager might be depressed, here are some tips that can help you be there for them:
- Let them know you will be there for them unconditionally, no matter what struggles they face.
- Make sure you invite them to talk with you. You may want to ask them if they are OK, or if there is anything they would like to talk about.
- Validate their feelings. The last thing your teen needs you to do is brush off anything they confide in you. Acknowledge that you understand where they are coming from.
- Avoid trying to talk them out of their depression. This is impossible and it may only cause them to feel alienated from you.
- Do not be intrusive. Try not to ask too many prying questions.
Idaho Mental Health Programs Can Help with Teen Depression
Help is available in Idaho for teens who are experiencing the symptoms of depression. The right treatment can make such a difference, and for many teens, it can actually save their lives.
Our Teen Mental Health Program in Idaho: Imagine
At Ashwood Recovery, we offer our Imagine Program to treat teens with mental health issues in Idaho. We work with adolescents who are between the ages of 12 and 17 years of age. Imagine provides treatment for teens with various mental health conditions (including depression) and substance abuse issues.
Teens who come to Imagine have the opportunity to participate in many types of therapy. They have individual sessions with a therapist, group sessions with their peers and family sessions as well. Schooling is a part of our program and nursing care is always available.
During the Imagine Program, teens benefit from:
- Sessions with our psychiatrist twice a week to manage their medications and make the appropriate changes.
- Regular sessions with their therapist.
- Music, art, and other types of therapy.
- Processing groups with other teens who understand the challenges they are facing.
- Their own treatment plan, which is designed to meet their unique needs.
We only use evidence-based treatment methods at Imagine. They have been proven to be effective.
Help is Available for Teen Depression in Idaho: Talk with Us About Treatment Options
At Ashwood Recovery, we care about teen mental health. Depression is a condition that strikes far too many young people. Parents can often feel lost and like they do not know what to do to help their children. We hope that the information we have presented here has been helpful.
Do you have a teen who might benefit from the Imagine Program? Are you concerned about teen depression with your son or daughter? Please contact us today to learn more.