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Mental Health

Top 10 ways to identify depression in teens

"It's promising that teens are showing more openness and acceptance of mental health issues, decreasing the stigma and secrecy around it."

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sadness, mental health and people concept - sad girl sitting on bed at home
(Ground Picture via Shutterstock)

By Charlotte Minett, 72Point via SWNS

Millions of teens are struggling to cope with their mental health and social pressures.

A poll of 1,000 teenagers found 31 percent have struggled with their mental health, feeling that way for an average of more than two years.

And 56 percent regularly feel anxious, with social media and the increased cost-of-living blamed.

It also emerged the average teen feels anxious for the equivalent of nine days each month.

As a result, they use techniques such as breathwork, speaking to a loved one and exercise to keep their mind at bay.

Journaling, listening to a podcast and meditation are other ways young people calm their mental health, according to the research commissioned by meditation and mental wellness app, Headspace.

But 89 percent of those, who struggled with their mental health, have been in a situation where they needed help with their wellbeing but weren’t sure how to access this support.

And 13 percent feel unsupported by the people around them and professionals.

It also emerged 31 percent of all teens polled have signed up to receive support with their wellness but were on a waiting list for more than five months on average.

This has led to calls for more support groups specifically for teenagers (27 percent), wellbeing lessons in school (25 percent), meditation workshops (21 percent) and the opportunity to skip school when they're feeling low (24 percent), to keep their wellbeing in top shape.

“It’s important to remember that adolescents don’t have enough tools to navigate the highs and lows of life," said Sam Snowden, mindfulness teacher at Headspace.

“When experiencing intensely difficult emotions for the first time, they may assume that this is how life will be going forward.

“This can be dangerous as they may begin to believe negative thoughts like 'nothing matters' and 'things will never get better.'

"It’s up to us as adults to get teens the help they need by connecting them with skilled and empathic mental health providers and peer support.”

The study also found 51 percent of those polled believe stress at school, university and their workplace has negatively impacted their mental wellbeing.

But 16 percent admitted this has affected their schoolwork, while 15 percent believe it has impacted their friendships.

To cope with this, 84 percent of those who have struggled with mental health feel comfortable talking to their pals about their wellbeing.

And 38 percent look up to their friends and family as mental health role models, according to the survey by OnePoll.

However, two in 10 don’t have anyone to look up to in terms of mental health support.

It also emerged 62 percent would like to learn more about ways to ease stress, with 61 percent unaware of the potential benefits of meditation and mindfulness.

“It's promising that teens are showing more openness and acceptance of mental health issues, decreasing the stigma and secrecy around it," Sam said.

“It’s troubling, however, to know how difficult it can be to navigate the mental health system that may require being on a waiting list for weeks or months before receiving care.

“Talking to family and friends is incredibly helpful as teens know they don’t have to suffer alone and that they’re surrounded by people who want to help and listen with compassion.

“Practicing the tools of mindfulness help to decrease rumination and help teens observe difficult thoughts with openness and self-compassion instead of self-criticism and suppression.”

HEADSPACE’S TOP 10 WAYS TO IDENTIFY DEPRESSION IN TEENS:

  1. Social Withdrawal. This may look like your child choosing to stay home instead of going out with friends and spending more time by themselves.
  2. A lack of interest in things that they used to enjoy.
  3. Changes in mood. You may notice physical and behavioral signs of sadness like lethargy and an increase in tearfulness.
  4. Signs of irritability including restlessness, difficulty concentrating, getting easily frustrated and showing impatience and annoyance over small issues.
  5. Changes in appetite can move between two extremes: eating much less or much more than usual.
  6. Your child may have a hard time getting out of bed or taking care of daily habits like the upkeep of personal hygiene and chores around the house.
  7. You may notice changes in their sleep patterns like difficulty falling asleep or oversleeping and having a hard time getting out of bed.
  8. Your child may express disinterest in school and stop caring about turning in assignments or maintaining good grades.
  9. They may show difficulty in making small decisions or answering questions about what they like or need.
  10. Expressing thoughts of worthlessness or overwhelm (“I can’t take this anymore”)

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