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Family Guidance Blog

Depression: Teen Symptoms Often go Unnoticed

Depressed 1Adolescents are often withdrawn and quiet when at home and it seems part of the rite of individuation for them to pull away from family. When they do interact on the home-front they can come across as emotional or demanding. Many parents retreat a bit and give teens more space to navigate through these years. Unfortunately, when they do, parents may miss some signals that it’s more than teen angst troubling their child. It could be depression.

A study from Social Indicators Research took a look at symptoms of depression experienced by adolescents during the 1980s and compared them to symptoms reported by depressed teens in 2010. The research found the following symptoms of depression often go unrecognized in teens.

  • Sleep disturbances – comparing adolescents in 2010 to figures from 1980s researchers found that teens were 74 percent more apt to have problems with sleep
  • Low appetite
  • Restless
  • Trouble focusing – again comparing 1980s to 2010 the study found that youth are now 38 percent more likely to struggle with memory
  • Sense of being overwhelmed – 50 percent of depressed college students surveyed reported feeling overwhelmed

These are not new symptoms. They are symptoms that affected young people with depression 30 years ago just as they affect depressed youth today. There does, however, appear to be a greater incidence of these symptoms. Parents should therefore not ignore when a teen can’t sleep, can’t seem to remember instructions, says they feel overwhelmed or begins picking at meals. Each of these could be a red flag that a teen is struggling more than average.

The study also found that the current adolescent population was more likely than previous generations to have spoken with a trained counselor. If you suspect that your teen may be dealing with depression, call Family Guidance Center today for an evaluation.

When Depression Affects You in the Workplace

Depressed 1Everyone has periods when they feel sad and down. That is different from clinical depression – a physical and psychological condition which affects roughly one out of every 10-20 Americans. That means there is probably someone in your workplace struggling with depression. Maybe that someone is you.

Tired All the Time
Chronic fatigue is a hallmark symptom of depression. Again, everyone feels sluggish from time to time, but for a person with depression, the feel of tiredness affects every aspect of life week upon week and month upon month irrespective of outside circumstances. This means that finishing tasks on the job requires nearly monumental effort. Investing in workplace relationships feels impossible. Isolating from others is one of the red flags of depression.

Don’t Ignore it, Talk to Someone
The most important thing to do when sadness, tiredness and social withdrawal become chronic is to talk with a medical doctor. Make sure that there is no physical cause behind the symptoms. A physician can give a quick assessment to determine whether depression is the cause of these and other problems (such as lack of sleep, trouble concentrating). A mental health professional can determine how severe a person’s depression may be.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All
In some cases, medication may be recommended. Just remember that anti-depressants usually take a month or more before they become effective. Other times, counseling may be recommended to address the issue. Oftentimes, people are struggling with emotions they are not aware of or don’t know how to process. Having someone help sort through those things and offer helpful ways to cope with emotions can make an enormous difference. For some, a combination of both medication and counseling will be best.

Getting Help
Meanwhile, it can help to pay attention to things at work which trigger negative feelings. It can help to take breaks from the computer. Small doses of officemate interaction can yield significant benefits. These and other strategies will be learned through regular counseling. If you think you may be dealing with depression, talk to a health professional soon. Family Guidance can schedule an appointment that works with your schedule. If someone in your office seems depressed, offer kindness and understanding and help them on the road to recovery by setting up an appointment today.

The Relentless Cycle of Stress and Depression

Stress 1There are many things in life which can cause stress. Some stressors are relatively small or short-lived: a test at school, a visit from your in-laws, a project deadline at work. A little bit of stress can actually be good for you. The human body was designed to respond to sudden stress. Under pressure, you may find that you can be more productive, more energetic or even more creative than normal. Small doses of stress are healthy – other kinds of stress are not.

If the stress persists or if the stressor is significant (the death of a loved one, the loss of a job) then the sustained stress response is unhealthy and can trigger an episode of serious depression. This is especially true for people who may be susceptible to depression for other reasons. Ongoing stress means that stress hormones and imbalances in other key body chemicals may lead to problems with eating, sleeping, decision-making, libido and mood. And those problems can then create further stress.

The link between depression and stress is a vicious circle. Stress tends to lower your energy and dampen your mood. Those things, in turn, usually negatively impact a person’s interest in taking part in activities like exercise and socializing that can help with symptoms of depression. Thus, the stress leads to behaviors which trigger depression and depression then becomes a further source of stress. Often it takes someone on the outside to intervene and break the cycle.

At Family Guidance we know all about the connection between stress and depression. Our staff can tell if you are experiencing a normal bout of low mood because of a negative life situation or whether your stress has led to depression. We also know how to help you break the circle and break free of stress and depression. If you’ve been feeling tired, listless and unhappy for more than two weeks, give us a call today.

How to Help When Your Friend Has Depression

Depression and anxiety affect millions of Americans. Approximately one-tenth of our population struggles10855632_s with depression. Chances are good that someone close to you is dealing with chronic depression or anxiety. How can you be supportive and encouraging? Here are several ways suggested by experts.

1. Be a Good Listener
Whether or not their fears, disillusionment or discouragements are something you can understand, offer them a patient ear and encouragement. To them, these concerns are overwhelming reality. Let them talk and assure them that you care.

2. Offer Hope
Just because your friend feels down and discouraged today doesn’t mean that they will always feel this way. Accept how they feel today and gently remind them that depression is treatable and with help they can lead a happy healthy life.

3. Become an Informed Friend
You can learn a lot about the symptoms of depression or anxiety and what some effective coping mechanisms might be. You can’t cure your friend, but you can share what you learn and suggest a few strategies that have worked in the past for others.

4. Suggest Counseling
If your friend had a physical illness that wasn’t getting better you would not hesitate to recommend they see a physician. If your loved one has persistent anxiety or depression, it is just as loving to urge them to talk with a trained mental healthcare professional.

Depression affects many people at some time during their lifetime. Sometimes depression hangs on and starts to interfere with a person’s ability to carry on their normal life. When that is the case, it is a true friend who recommends seeking help. At Family Guidance we see people every day who are learning how to manage issues such as depression and anxiety. Even if life situations don’t change, how people respond to them can.

Depression Among Older, Caucasian Men Poses the Greatest Suicide Risk

Adult-Ment-Health-imageDepression affects more people than any other mental health disorder. Research suggests that 16.6 percent of Americans will experience serious depression (referred to as major depressive disorder) at some period during their lifetime. Among women, some studies suggest the rate may be as high as 20 percent. Unfortunately, one episode of major depression often predicts future episodes.

Depression and Suicide
Depression carries with it many significant side effects. Apart from prolonged feelings of sadness and hopelessness, people with depression often become socially isolated, have trouble sleeping or concentrating and find difficulty truly enjoying many of life’s normal pleasures. Suicide is the most severe side effect. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide poses the greatest threat to depressed, Caucasian, older men.

Why Older, Caucasian Males?
There are no clear explanations as to why this is so, but several theories have been examined. For one thing, men seem more reluctant to seek out treatment and so their depression may become unbearable more often. In addition, men tend to make more violent attempts to take their life and so may succeed more often compared to women. Some experts have even suggested that white males enjoy the greatest amount of success in society and so may have fewer opportunities to learn coping skills which are formed through dealing with loss, disappointment and struggle.

Prevention is Key for Reducing Suicide Rate
Whatever the cause, the most serious danger seems to come from relapse. Having a single period of severe depression makes it much more likely that another bout of depression will turn up one day. This is even true for patients who seek out treatment. The patterns of negative thinking which contribute to depression may become a default pattern when stress increases. For this reason, some experts believe that prevention is the real key to reducing the suicide rate among older white men – or anyone.

It is better to get help when a person is beginning to feel depressed rather than waiting until it is severe. If you or someone close to you has been feeling down for several weeks without an obvious cause, contact Family Guidance today.