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Identification and treatment of adolescent depression

Parenting is a challenging job! Your child must receive your guidance and help in practically every aspect of life. One of the major challenges that parents face today is related to the management of emotional upheavals in their teenagers. The emotional turbulence that a child goes through is normal and part of the process of growing up. But emotional trauma can potentially lead to depression in certain adolescents. Untreated depression has serious repercussions and may even lead to suicide.

It is highly unlikely that an adolescent will come crying to parents with an emotional problem. In our society, crying in public is not seen as an adult act and most adolescents are at a stage where they are trying to prove that they are adults and mature human beings. The fact, however, is that they are in the process of becoming adults. Therefore, there are times that they do need adult intervention to sort out matters. But for them, asking for help is like accepting the fact that they have not grown up yet. Moreover, they are too caught up with own emotions to ask for help and the adults fail to understand that subtle intervention is required in certain areas.

Developing a healthy relationship with children helps but it may not be possible to draw them out every time. The options for treating depression in children are limited. And therefore, it is essential that you understand the potential situations that can cause depression. It is also pertinent that you realize the various initial signs of depression in children so that you can identify the potential and address it before it is too late. You should be especially careful if your child has been through a chronic illness or lost a loved one. Neglect or abuse can also bring symptoms of depression.

Some of the symptoms to watch out for are:

* Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.
* Lack of concentration.
* Drop in grades in school.
* Indecision.

Some physical symptoms like headaches, low energy, insomnia or inability to stay awake and loss of appetite may also indicate prevalence of depression. Behavioral changes like irritability and belligerence also suggest that the child has some mental problem. If your child is spending more time alone and is missing class, you need to delve further and find out the reasons for the same. In fact any change in behavior that shows negative patterns should be enough to raise an alarm for you to address the problem.

Depression is a clinical illness like any other medical condition and should be treated as such. It is not advisable to administer habit forming drugs like antidepressants to youngsters. Parental support is a prerequisite for treating depression naturally as children are not fully equipped to handle depression on their own. Some things that you should do are:

* Respect your child’s problems. They may seem to be trivial to you but remember that they appear as real challenges to teens.
* Respect his/her privacy and avoid talking about his problems in front of other people. Try to put yourself in his position and see how you would feel if someone was do the same to you.
* Teens usually develop imaginary fears. Many times it is just a minor inability, say, dancing, that makes them stay at home rather than go out and enjoy. Youngsters are very good at identifying with parents. Talk to your child about how you got out of similar problems (even if you have to concoct a story) in your childhood.
* Many schools have psychologists who are experts in dealing with adolescent depression. Encourage your child to go and talk to a counselor in school if it has one.

Except in the unfortunate event of a severe depression, treatment should be restricted to natural remedies for depression. If you find yourself unable to tackle your child’s depression on your own the best alternative is to convince him that a psychiatrist can help. It is better that your child chooses that option on his/her volition. Your child will be more receptive to treatment in that case.

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