Depression is a complicated issue to get a handle on. As a parent you want your child to only experience the good things in life. But when they are depressed you may feel helpless and unsure of what you can do to help. With 3.3 million people experiencing long term depression (lasting two or more years) in the US, it underlines another problem that you might not be aware of: not all depressive states are the same.

Situational and clinical depression have two different sources, and each one has a unique path towards healing. Here are what you should know about each, so you can help your teenager cope with this difficult phase of their life.

Common Symptoms Of Depression

Even though depression does not always come from the same source the symptoms are almost always the same. They can include:

  • Dull or monotone voice
  • Sudden bouts of crying
  • Frequent expression of sadness
  • Angry outbursts
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Expressions of helplessness or lack of self worth
  • Poor self image
  • Lessening interest in past activities or hobbies
  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Suffering school performance
  • Complaining of physical pains, such as back pain or headaches

Situational Depression

Also categorized as a form of anxiety, situational depression is a short term condition that is caused by a particular change that has a serious impact on the life of the sufferer. Clinicians often see it as a maladjustment to major shifts in environment, which can be hard to cope with, particularly in already vulnerable stages of life, such as adolescence.

Some examples of triggers for situational depression include:

Ways That Situational Depression Can Be Managed:

  • Speaking to a therapist.
  • Addressing core issues that are causing stress.
  • Reducing stressful triggers, such as eliminating some activities that are taking too much time.
  • Increasing positive activities, and encouraging social time with positive influences.
  • Spending time together as a family.
  • Reducing stresses at home, such as working on not fighting.
  • Meditation and mindfulness.
  • Getting the proper amount of sleep, eating well, and being physically active.
  • Taking part in a support group.

Clinical Depression

There is no known source for clinical depression, but the current theories are that it is caused by hereditary factors, chemical imbalances in the brain, and other complex chemical processes being disrupted within the sufferer. Because we have such a poor understanding of the condition it can be difficult to treat.

Most doctors go on a case by case basis, trying a combination of treatments until they find a balance that works for the patient. This can be a long road of trial and error, but worth it for those who are suffering from the condition.

Ways That Clinical Depression Can Be Managed

  • Talk therapy (long term)
  • Working with a therapeutic team of a psychiatrist and psychologist who can address the depression from both a chemical and psychological standpoint.
  • Medication, or combination of medications, to address symptoms and manage imbalances.
  • Hospital intervention in severe cases.

Whatever form of depression your teen is suffering from, the most important thing you can do is let them know that they are not alone. You are behind them, supporting them, and whether it is situational or depression you with be with them every step of the way.

Author's Bio: 

As the content writer and outreach coordinator for HelpYourTeenNow, Tyler Jacobson joined the team after years of parenting a son with Reactive Attachment Disorder. He lends his experiences and education to other parents looking for ways to help their teens that struggle in school, social, and family circles. Topics that Tyler commonly writes on are parenting, troubled teens, education problems, behavioral disorders, and addictions. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn