depression in youth
Photo Credit: flickr user – Sambod


Identifying Depression In Youth

With adolescence comes ups and downs.  It’s a natural progression, but what happens if your child’s downs are more severe?  What could they lead toward?  What are they leading toward?  What of the time sensitive time period in high school, when there’s little to no room for behavior issues or shutting down?
Depression in youth is a serious issue, and the changes occurring in teen lives and bodies make them particularly susceptible.  Let’s discuss what’s causing teen depression.

The Top 5 Causes of Depression In Youth

Mayo Clinic Health System, a nonprofit organization that deals with clinical research and data, covers five major potential causes of depression in an article specific to our youth today.

  1. Hormones: Depression in teens can be triggered by large amounts of sudden chemical changes in the body
  2. Brain chemistry: There are naturally occurring brain chemicals that may be involved in depression called neurotransmitters. Some of these chemicals are specifically in charge of bodily functions like sleep cycles, emotional states and appetite. If these chemicals get out of balance, depression symptoms may start to appear.
  3. Inherited traits: If biological relatives have the condition, it is more likely that the child may develop depression.
  4. Learned patterns of negative thinking: If a teen has learned behaviors such as feeling helpless, powerless or negative, they may not be capable of finding helpful solutions for the challenges they face. Eventually, this might lead them to develop symptoms of depression.
  5. Early childhood trauma: Physical or emotional abuse, loss of a parent, or other events during childhood can cause trauma. This, in turn, can lead to changes in the brain which make a person more vulnerable to developing depression.

It’s Not Just Teenage Angst?

In an article by The Telegraph, the interviewers ask Beth Murphy, head of information at the charity Mind, what parents can look out for in their teen:

“Comments like, ‘I don’t want to go on anymore’ should be ringing alarm bells. Self harm can be quite common in young people with depression so keep an eye out if they’re wearing a long sleeved T-shirt when it’s a hot day,” says Beth.

Here is a quick list of symptoms to help distinguish teenage angst from depression in youth:

  • Isolation
  • Inability to function
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Self-harm
  • Sense of hopelessness
  • Uncharacteristic changes in behavior
  • Loss of interest

How Do You Help?

The first step in helping your teen is talking to them without judgment or adding any assumptions. Good things often take work to achieve, but what can you do to provide your child the help they need? Sometimes it takes more than a weekly visit to the therapist’s office or outpatient care. Those do not allow your teen to extend beyond their environment or detach from destructive habits/triggers.  A wilderness therapy program teaches your child personal responsibility, self-discipline and creates the space to develop proper coping mechanisms for life’s challenges.

blueFire’s Wilderness Therapy Program

blueFire is specifically designed to promote personal development in young men and women ages 13-17 as they learn essential skills for facing/overcoming challenges both personally and within a group. blueFire uses a unique style of teaching to strengthen the child’s sense of responsibility and self-esteem. A few examples include:

  • Immersing the teen in nature and allowing them to connect with their surroundings through interacting with the great outdoors
  • Letting youth develop their own activities to reward and build the confidence in abilities
  • A variety of experience-based learning techniques such a planning a path for a hike, packing supplies, camping, and completing the trip
  • Self-applied anger management training, and emphasis on developing healthy personal habits
  • Equine Therapy, cleaning campsites, and chores with partners encourage interpersonal bonds with other teammates

Depression in youth is a significant risk for each teens’  future, but at therapeutic programs like this, young ladies and men challenge themselves and their peers every day to overcome adversity. Teens find support in each other as a team, and learn to appreciate their own achievements with renewed confidence.
If you are interested in a wilderness therapy program for your teen, please contact blueFire at 1 (844) 413-1999 as soon as possible to speak to our admissions director, Reid.  He will answer any questions, give you guidance and help reconnect your family.


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