Teen depression is on the rise. For many readers, this isn’t the first time they’ve heard this.
Despite the fact that now, more than ever before, teens have more sophisticated lifestyles, including traveling, bigger homes with all basic necessities, sports opportunities, educational opportunities, access to technology, and much more, an alarming number of teens are going through depression.
Why? What is missing?
It appears that experiences bought with money, though they temporarily increase life pleasure, don’t provide the nourishment necessary for a healthy psychological development. Research studies have supported this and even shown that more materialistic objects don’t increase long-term happiness.
Many teens whose behaviour is seen as problematic, when questioned, will recall not having enough time with parents, so they found their own diversion. Some teen’s rebel, some sink into depression, and some experience both. Rebellion or depression, however, are only symptoms of the bigger problem: a lack of connection with the caregiver.
Despite our advanced society, receiving the psychological basics of life (e.g., human connection, love, parent-child bond and interaction) remains important. As such, I discuss 3 contributors to depression. These 3 ideas are rooted in the necessity for caregivers to create a connection with their teens.
1. Poor relationships: Many teens who suffer from depression have very poor relationships with their parents. Poor relationships consist of frequent fighting, not enough interaction, abuse, etc. For healthy psychological development teens need to have interactive relationships with their parents. This sends the message that teens are cherished, worth the time, and that they’re important and they matter. It lets teens know they’re loved and they belong. In the absence of this, teens disconnect from the parents and seek to fill that gap by using friends as a substitute for parents. Peers, however, are a poor alternative as they’re unable to fill in what is missing from the parents. With the inability to find what they’re looking for some teens gradually sink into depression.
2. Dysfunction in the home: The home is meant to be a symbol of security and safety. When it’s a happy home, kids and teens look forward to coming home from school each day. When parents are absorbed by fights and verbally poking at each other, or are emotionally, verbally, or physically abusive towards teens, this home becomes as place of fear, sadness, and insecurity. Teens that associate their worth with a dysfunctional home are more likely to feel depressed.
3. Stress: As long as we live we have stress. Teens are just getting a hang of many life issues and require support at home along with advice on how to handle stressors. When teens are taught stress coping skills and have someone to speak to at home, the stress no longer is perceived as unmanageable. As such, it requires parents to have time for teens, to be in tune with what is going on in teens’ life, and to have robust relationships so teens will open up. Without a healthy way to cope with stress, teens can feel overwhelmed, inadequate and experience depression.
Best Wishes to You and Your Family!
Ivana Pejakovic, Life Coach in Toronto