Teens are struggling through a vortex of conflicting developmental challenges such as Biology/Hormone, School Pressures, Peer Pressure/Acceptance, Separation/Family Struggles, Brain Changes. Sexual Orientation, Societal Expectations, The Future – the list goes On & On.
In terms of Depression, approximately 1 out of 5 Teens will experience a serious depressive episode by the time they reach adulthood. Even more profound, is that Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for Teens in our country. In addition, 30% of depressed Teens struggle with Substance Abuse.
The good news is that 80% of Teens who engage in therapy for their depression get better than those who don’t. The first thing we address when working with a Teen struggling with depression is basic lifestyle management – sleep, exercise, diet, healthy daily activities, getting a physical check-up, and reducing stress in their environment. We can then go on to address thinking patterns, relationship choices/dynamics, family function, trauma of any kind, school, identity/self-esteem, and managing emotional fluctuations. Parent education also plays a big role in this work, as he usually does in most work with a Teen.
We also know that alcohol and substance abuse usually begin during the Teen years. Several factors can play into this phenomenon, such as family history/genes, untreated ADHD and mood disorders, trauma, family and social environment, and opportunity. I encourage a family approach in this treatment context, outside drug treatment programs, 12 step recovery education, effective treatment of previously untreated psychiatric conditions, and serious lifestyle management.