Therapy for Teenagers with Depression
Newport Beach, CA
Newport Beach, CA
Has your teenager begun to act differently? Do they spend more time alone than usual? Have they been acting more angry, sad, or irritable than usual? Do they appear tired or sluggish more often than not?
Unfortunately, many of the indicators of teenage depression are also very common among teenagers in general. The stressors of being a teenager, combined with massive physical, social, and psychological changes, provide the perfect cocktail for depressive symptoms to emerge in adolescence.
Isolation from others
Anger outbursts or frequent conflict with others
Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
Loss or increase in appetite
Sadness or tearfulness
Decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities
Although many of these symptoms are common for teens, the presence of depression can be identified through the duration and severity of the symptoms. Specifically, five or more symptoms must be present for at least two weeks in order for a diagnosis of depression to be made. However, other mental health issues, such as trauma, anxiety, and adjustment may also look similar to depression. The treatment and diagnosis of depression during teenage development is crucial, as the negative effects of this disorder on health outcomes can be long lasting (Rofey et al, 2009).
If you have noticed your teen begin to have symptoms of depression that affect their performance at school, social engagement, or health behaviors, do not wait. The team at The OC Psychology Center for Assessment and Psychotherapy is here to help. We provide evidence-based psychological testing and treatment options for teens and their families to accurately identify mental health issues, set meaningful goals, and find solutions for improvements in health and wellbeing.
As noted earlier, teens face numerous stressors and changes that can potentially contribute to a depressive episode. Although a single cause can be difficult to identify, most depressive symptoms fall within a cycle of what the team at OC Psychology refer to as the Depression Spiral:
The Depression Spiral is a process that both causes and worsens depressive symptoms over time. Often, the spiral begins with some sort of major stressor. Some examples of major stressors for teens might include social pressure, body image concerns, loss of a loved one or meaningful relationship, or moving to a new place. The stressor induces an emotional response, such as feelings of hurt, sadness, fear, worry, or anger. The human brain is hard-wired to learn from emotional experiences in ways that keep us alive and safe, which means that a stress-induced emotional response can release neurohormones that numb pain and increase awareness to keep our body prepared to address the stress. This is particularly true for those going through puberty, as the magnitude of hormone release is catalyzed by this stage of human development.
The release of these neurohormones can also induce physiological changes that, over time, can become chronic depressive symptoms such as sluggishness, persistent sadness or feeling down, and thoughts of suicide. These new symptoms affect behavior, resulting in isolating oneself, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, and difficulty in school. These changes often lead to more stressors, particularly when we become more isolated from others.
Fortunately, the Depression Spiral can be stopped. Clinical psychologists are trained to help teens overcome symptoms of depression by addressing the cycle of stress and emotional discord through empathy, practical behavioral solutions, and collaboration with the family. Our team of mental health professionals is determined to help you and your child find answers. If your teen struggles with sadness, thoughts of death or suicide, loss of interest, or other depressive symptoms, let us help.
Contact OC Psychology Center for Assessment and Therapy today to schedule your first appointment. Our mission is to help teens and their families find answers and solutions through assessment (testing and diagnosis) and psychotherapy (treatment) services. To read more about our assessment services, check out our other pages on psychological testing and diagnosis. To learn more about what treatment for depression looks like for teens here in our clinic, read on!
The team at OC Psychology is here for you. Our process for treating depression is designed with families in mind, and we prioritize your teen’s progress and safety. The first step in treating any of our pediatric clients involves an evidence-based process for diagnosing their condition. Additionally, if symptoms of self-harm or suicidality are present we will complete a safety plan together to help keep your child healthy during the treatment process. The best option for treatment of teenage depression is psychotherapy (Stark et al, 2006), although some older teens may benefit from consultation regarding medication as well. Psychotherapy with teens also involves an additional layer of privacy to help the teen feel safe about sharing details with their therapist without fear of that information being received by the parent. The boundaries that we set will be discussed and agreed on as a group when we schedule our first session. To read more about what psychotherapy looks like with teens, check out our page on Therapy for Teens!
Improve feelings of self-worth
Decrease negative self-talk
Set healthy habits
Have a growth mindset
Have hope about the future
Be present and mindful of thoughts and emotions
Be socially active
Open up emotionally with parents and siblings
Our Adolescent Therapy Specialists Are Skilled at Teaching Cognitive-Behavioral Strategies to Help Teens Manage Symptoms of Depression.