Considering the world of today with all the high-pressure from parents, school, peers, media and the amount of information that is thrown at them daily, it is no wonder that troubled teens are increasing. A conflicted, lonely teenager thinks that life is filled with burdens and obstacles and negative situations. He thinks that he is inadequate, unworthy, undesirable, and worthless. Loneliness affects his thinking about himself, his world, and the future. So, when he is feeling stressed, he also feels self-blame and pessimism. Some teens struggle with concerns about sexuality and relationships, wondering if their feelings and attractions are normal, if they will be loved and accepted, or if their changing bodies are developing normally. Others struggle with body image and eating problems, finding it impossible to reach a perfect ideal, and therefore having trouble feeling good about themselves.
Sexual feelings are awakened in new ways because of the hormonal and physical changes. Changing hormones cause a myriad of emotional and behavioural alterations in you. It has been documented that teenagers provided with a sturdy foundation of guidance and structure cope with these changes better. Usually, between the ages of eight and 18 years old, your body starts growing and changing and the mood swings in teenagers begin.
Symptoms of teen depression
People experiencing depression may experience symptoms like feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, loss of interest in what they usually enjoy, a lack of energy, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, crying a lot for no reason and feeling anxious.
Some teenagers regularly use drugs or alcohol to compensate for anxiety, loneliness, or lack of positive social skills. Warning signs of teenage drug or alcohol abuse may include:
• A drop in school performance,
• A change in groups of friends,
• Delinquent behaviour, and
• Deterioration in family relationships.
There may also be physical signs such as red eyes, a persistent cough, and change in eating and sleeping habits. Alcohol or drug dependency may include blackouts, withdrawal symptoms, and further problems in functioning at
home, school, or work.
Teens can use this intervention with the following techniques
* Build a network of friends who help you cope in a positive way. Having a strong support system is very necessary at this age. Create dependable friendships with people who can be counted on to support your effort to change, learn and grow.
*Learn to feel good about doing a competent job rather than demanding perfection from yourself and others.
* Add a touch of humour. Laughter is good medicine for the body, mind, and it keeps things light to ease tension. So, remember to add humour to your conversations.
* Keeping the lines of communication open with parents and peer group will greatly benefit. Don’t be judgmental in your approach.
*Focus on the present. The past cannot be changed. The future hasn't arrived yet. that leaves you with now. Now is the time to create the future you desire.
*Many teenagers eat unhealthy foods, which increase stress. Make sure you watch sugar and caffeine consumption and eat more fruit and vegetables.
*Educate yourselves about the dangers of sexual assault by friends or acquaintances.
* Talk about your problems, if you feel lonely and stressed take help of a mental health professional. Suppressing your problem might cause a sudden outburst.
Let the Therapist evaluate your thoughts and feelings.
* Exercise regularly, it’s important to be healthy physically as well as mentally.
What parents can do to help teens
Home should be a place where teens can re-charge their batteries, feel safe and supported. When teenagers have the support they need, when they eat right and get enough sleep, they usually have much of what it takes to manage the emotional ups and down. Parents who are tuned in to their teenagers, sensitive in providing support, encouragement, love and a nurturing home environment are doing all the right things to help, their children learn to deal with the stress they confront in typical situations every day.
Sometimes what children need is someone who can just listen to them. Listen more. Some young children are very sensitive and need more attention. Please give them that attention.
Respect each other, even your differences. Validate and encourage your teen daughter/son. They may not show it, but teenagers love to be praised. Remember to regularly – and sincerely – point out your teen’s strengths. Praise something, they do well. Encourage your teen to make friends, call them over often. Let your child learn to be non-judgmental and unbiased in his opinions. If your teen is complaining of low feeling and anxiety, don’t ignore the symptoms, take him/her to the psychologist immediately.
Seema Hingorrany is a renowned clinical psychologist, trauma expert and author.