Teen Depression: These Treatment Methods Can Help

symptoms of depressio teen depression

Teenagers are especially vulnerable during adolescence, where their behavior may become erratic and concerning, proving difficult for parents to handle. Depression is a complex mental health issue to navigate and requires individualized treatment. 

Despite the tenderness surrounding depression, treatment can help provide teens with fulfillment and purpose to help them overcome or significantly reduce the symptoms of depression. We’ll offer teen depression treatment methods, what they entail, and why they might benefit your teen.

The Complexity of Treating Depression

Before discussing different teen depression treatment approaches, it’s essential to provide some context. Depression is not a one-size-fits-all disorder; various physiological and psychological conditions can cause it. As such, depression isn’t something that you can wish away or scold out of a teen. In fact, trying to do so might be extremely hurtful and cause the teen to feel more ostracized. 

Teenagers are particularly susceptible to engaging in harmful behavior while experiencing depression, and it can be difficult for them to reckon with the changes they are experiencing during puberty, further exacerbating the stress and anxiety that the condition can inflict. 

In review, it’s not something that you should treat in a cavalier manner or dismiss as hormonal; depression has a complex origin that may require different treatment methods or a combination thereof to treat.

Physiological Treatments for Teen Depression

As mentioned, there are multiple underlying causes for this ailment, some of which may be physiological. For example, chemical imbalances in the brain can lead to depression or reduced feelings of happiness.

The Food and Drug Administration approves two medications for teen depression: Prozac and Lexapro, also referred to as fluoxetine and escitalopram, respectively.

These work to address some of the underlying physical causes of depression and can alleviate symptoms in some patients. 

A doctor will diagnose your adolescent carefully through a physical exam, lab tests, and psychological evaluation before suggesting medication. Even so, it may not be suitable for every teen since these medications can come with several side effects and may increase depressive symptoms in the short term.

Home Remedies

A mental health professional can also help teens identify and address other conditions contributing to their depression, such as poor dietary nutrition. Some home remedy treatments that can help temporarily alleviate or reduce symptoms of depression include:

  • Exercise – Exercise produces endorphins, short-term feel-good chemicals. Some research also suggests that exercise is good for the long-term health of the brain.
  • Diet – Some foods, such as those with omega-3 fatty acids and folic acids, may alleviate depression symptoms. While diet alone won’t fix depression, a poor diet can lead to increased sluggishness and overall irritability, and worsen a teen’s mood, exacerbating feelings of depression.
  • Sleep – Depression and sleep can be cyclically linked. Feelings of depression can cause difficulty sleeping, which affects a teen’s mood and sense of well-being. The reverse is also true. A doctor or mental health specialist may recommend setting a routine, avoiding screens before bed, or using a gentle sleep aid to encourage consistent sleep patterns.

The phrase “healthy body, healthy mind” might be too generic when talking about depression, but it might be more accurate to say, “Healthy body, healthy posture of mind.” 

In other words, several lifestyle choices—poor diet, alcohol, drugs, lack of exercise, and lack of sleep—can contribute to depression, and depression, in turn, can increase the likelihood of these detrimental behaviors. On the other hand, disciplining one’s body through diet, exercise, and proper sleep can improve a sense of wellness.

Psychological Treatments for Depression

Medication paired with therapy is often the most effective overall treatment for depression. The latter portion is usually centered around connecting teens with their peers, igniting their passion, and validating their experiences.

Teens can feel isolated, especially when suffering from symptoms of depression. Therapy can help them address the psychological component of depression, helping them restructure thought patterns, perceptions, and coping mechanisms to reduce depression symptoms and, hopefully, regain a sense of well-being.

Talk Therapy

Talk therapy generally incorporates behavioral therapy techniques to help teens address their feelings, identifying negative thought patterns and substituting them for healthier ones. Talk therapy may include individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy, allowing the teen to express themselves—or simply listen to others—in a safe environment.

Specialized Therapy Treatments

Some specialized approaches to therapy may focus on different aspects of depression to treat them according to varying schools of thought. For example, motivational interviewing is a therapeutic approach of asking and listening to motivate patients to change by themselves.

Other approaches may deal with past trauma, help the teen navigate different challenging interpersonal relationships, or instill in them the self-efficacy to change their own thought patterns and behaviors.

Through therapy and alternative treatment methods, teens learn:

  • To identify and process their emotions
  • To validate their feelings and experiences
  • To understand the impact those feelings have on their thought patterns
  • To believe they can improve their thought patterns

Therapists may administer various treatment methods through teen rehabilitation centers, which provide a judgment-free, safe zone for teens to engage in therapy, express themselves, and discover their passions. 

They can seek the help and attention they need in an individualized setting and connect with their peers and find activities they enjoy. Teen rehabilitation centers might task teens with caring for horses, known as equine therapy, to teach them stewardship and instill a sense of confidence and purpose. 

These centers instill discipline in teens, teaching them to exercise their willpower—even if it means doing something unpleasant. Hiking therapy, for example, teaches teens to challenge themselves while also giving them great exercise.

The Bottom Line

Adolescents are independent, trying to reckon with the growing responsibilities of young adulthood while also processing the hormonal changes of puberty. Depression isn’t something they simply grow out of. There are many treatments for teen depression, but at the end of the day, no one treatment is suitable for everyone. Treating depression in teens often requires a combination of physiological and psychological approaches over a period of time.