Many people harbor biases and negative attitudes toward depression, especially in teens. As a result, there are many myths and ill-formed beliefs surrounding teenage depression. As parents, we can better support our kids by reframing the way we think about it.
Many residential programs for depression will help both parents and teens alike in forming more positive beliefs about mental health. In this article, we address some of the most common myths about depression and how they end up being more harmful than helpful. Keep reading to learn more.
Table of Contents
- 1. There is Nothing to be Depressed About
- 2. It’s Just a Phase
- 3. It’s Just Moodiness
- 4. They Are Just Being Lazy
- 5. They Look Happy, How Could They Be Depressed?
- 6. Everyone Gets Sad Sometimes
- 7. Teen Depression Looks The Same For Girls & Boys
- 8. They Are Just Seeking Attention
- 9. There is Nothing I Can Do to Help
- 10. Consequences and Structure Will Help Teens With Depression
1. There is Nothing to be Depressed About
A common misconception about teenage depression is that teens don’t have much to be stressed about. While, yes, most do not have many adult responsibilities yet, they are still equally entitled to feel what they feel.
Not to mention, high school IS stressful for most kids. Your teen is experiencing these emotions for the first time. This may be the most stress they ever felt, and they are struggling to empathize with what your daily stressors may be.
Especially when they are falling behind, struggling to pay attention, or having trouble making friends – all of which tend to happen when your teen is starting to feel depressed.
2. It’s Just a Phase
When your teen hears you refer to their mental health disorder as “just a phase,” it’s hard for them to not feel invalidated about the way they feel. The complex emotions commonly associated with depression feel more than just a phase to your child, especially when they are experiencing them for the first time.
Undiagnosed and untreated depression can last upwards of a few months, leading your teen to miss out on important milestones in their life.
3. It’s Just Moodiness
Moodiness is just a symptom of depression, but it isn’t the only one. During adolescence, teens start to develop their sense of independence and autonomy, making them more likely to come off as irritable.
However, depression affects your teen’s energy levels, ability to sleep, desire to socialize, motivation, and more. It’s important to distinguish whether the moodiness is associated with adolescence, or if it is a part of a multitude of different symptoms.
4. They Are Just Being Lazy
When depression strikes, your teen may lose their appetite, find it harder to sleep (or sleep longer than ever before), and find daily tasks difficult to complete. This isn’t a mark of laziness, but rather a sign that your teen is struggling with both the physical and emotional side effects of depression. Teen depression makes existing day-to-day difficult, let alone doing chores and homework.
5. They Look Happy, How Could They Be Depressed?
Some teens, like some adults, are much better at hiding their depression than others. They may be wearing a smile on their face, getting good grades, and hanging out with friends, yet still be struggling with feelings of depression.
But the bottom line is that high-functioning depression is still depression. Have honest conversations with your teen and let them know you are supportive of them no matter what.
6. Everyone Gets Sad Sometimes
Yes, everyone does feel sad sometimes. However, sadness is an individual emotion. Meanwhile, depression is a full-on mental health disorder. If your teen is feeling “sad” every day in addition to the relevant symptoms, there is a chance they are struggling with a depressive episode. Untreated depression is much more severe than the occasional sad mood.
7. Teen Depression Looks The Same For Girls & Boys
Symptoms of depression look different in everyone, especially among opposite sexes. According to a study on depressive symptoms, the severity of symptoms is higher in girls than boys.
However, boys tend to be less likely to voice their struggles, which has led to an overall higher rate of suicide among males as they mature. Some boys may act out with aggression or violence, whereas girls are more likely to feel empty or experience excessive crying. It’s important to consider that your teen may be displaying symptoms depending on their gender.
8. They Are Just Seeking Attention
If your child comes to you in a time of need, dismissing them as being “attention-seeking” will make your child feel unheard and alone. They cannot just will themselves out of a depressive episode. Even if they do want your attention, what’s so wrong with that? Find a healthy, supportive way to give them attention and support.
9. There is Nothing I Can Do to Help
Educating yourself on teenage depression is one of the best things you can do to support your teen. Try to avoid “fixing” your teenager with remedies you found online. Depression is a real illness, and like any physical illness, it may require medication and treatment.
Letting your teen know these options are available to them while being supportive of their choices, will be a great way to show up for them.
10. Consequences and Structure Will Help Teens With Depression
Punishing your teenager or giving them a long list of chores will cause more harm than good. On the other hand, coercing them into doing “positive” activities will have a similar effect. You can’t fix or force your teen out of their depression.
Structure may make your teen feel trapped, instead of supported. Have a conversation with them instead, and offer to do activities together. Don’t guilt trip or force them to do something they expressed that they have no interest in.
Depression often has many ill-formed beliefs attached to it. Over the years, several misconceptions about depression have formed, and as a result, pushed people away from proper psychoeducation, treatment, and support.
Teens are especially misunderstood in this regard. As each generation unlearns these misconceptions, one myth at a time, teens get closer to more effective treatments for depression.
However, to take the time to address and reframe these biases you may need to take an honest look at yourself and the ways you were raised. Our understanding of depression evolves throughout every generation, and your teen needs your support and empathy. Unlearn these myths today.