MYTH: You’re better off not discussing depression with your child.
FACT: Communication is key to understanding what’s going on in your teen’s head. Even if he doesn’t show it, he’ll appreciate that you care enough to ask how he’s feeling. Remember, you still can influence your child during adolescence.
MYTH: Teens are just moody.
FACT: The National Institute of Mental Health reports that up to 8 percent of adolescents experience depression. That’s why it’s critical for parents to learn to distinguish between typical teen moodiness and behavior that could indicate depression.
MYTH: Depressed kids are loners.
FACT: Depression can affect punks, perfectionists, popular kids-it doesn’t distinguish. The only common thread is that depressed teens tend to feel alone-even when surrounded by friends.
MYTH: You should strictly enforce limits with your depressed child.
FACT: It’s wiser to choose your battles. Taking away privileges from a depressed teen may fuel her despair. Make her accept responsibility for her behavior, but don’t punish her for the way she feels.
MYTH: You can’t do anything if your teen refuses help.
FACT: You don’t have to take “no” for an answer. If she’s adamant about refusing help, consult a therapist for parenting tips and advice on how to coax her into therapy.
MYTH: You’ll know if your child is depressed.
FACT: The signs of depression aren’t always obvious. Some kids mask them so they won’t worry their parents. What’s more, parents may shrug off warning signs, confusing them with typical adolescence.
MYTH: Depression isn’t an inherited condition.
FACT: It runs in families. Frequently, if a teen has depression, one or more parents may also.
It’s important that other family members get treatment, too. The data shows when a mother gets treatment for her depression, her child often gets better.
MYTH: Depressed teens look like depressed adults.
FACT: Adolescent depression manifests itself differently. Rather than appearing blue, teens may become defiant and irritable. Some get labeled troublemakers because they challenge authority. This, in turn, prevents them from getting the help they need.
MYTH: Adolescent depression affects both sexes equally.
FACT: It’s twice as prevalent in girls. Researchers think the inequality may have to do with the different way boys and girls experience and respond to stress.
MYTH: Resuming normal routines helps depressed kids get better.
FACT: If a teen is depressed, the everyday can seem overwhelming. That’s why parents should try to make reasonable accommodations rather than pushing their child to “keep up.”
MYTH: Teens shouldn’t take antidepressants.
FACT: While antidepressants pose risks for a small percent of youngsters, they shouldn’t be ruled out. If they are prescribed, both doctor and parents should closely monitor the teen’s behavior.