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How to deal with Adolescent Depression

It’s a well-known fact that during puberty your child will experience a large surge of hormones, which leads to a variety of intense and unpredictable moods.

A term known as “doom and gloom” is said to be a normal part of teenage development, whereby hormone fluctuation causes them to have low mood, disrupted sleep and low energy levels.

The difficulty for parents is recognising the difference between “doom and gloom” and clinical depression, as many of the symptoms are the same.

It is difficult to separate the symptoms but typically clinical depression will present as a longer lasting low mood (longer than 2 weeks); be more likely if you have a family history of depression; present if your teenager is experiencing very low self esteem and his behaviour is dangerous or riskier than usual.

Depression is also more likely in certain personality types, for example those who seek perfection or have very high standards, or those that do not communicate well and bottle everything up.

It is important to not underestimate your parental intuition when assessing your teenager’s behaviour. You may know if something is just “not right” and be able to recognise that its more than just teenager moodiness. If this is the case, or you are unsure, it is important to seek professional help from your local GP who will make an assessment and put a mental healthcare plan in place. Depression can be caused by many different factors, including heredity, biochemical imbalances in the brain, personal and work-related stress, bereavement, trauma or long term personality traits. Not all people who feel sad are necessarily depressed and the severity and frequency of symptoms will vary from one individual to the next.

How a Psychologist can help?

The teenage years can be a challenging time for parent and child and communication may be broken. A psychologist can assist teens with a range of concerns from mood disorders like anxiety and depression through to social and emotional challenges, equipping them with practical coping strategies for every day life. We have Clinical Psychologists at Newmarket and Morningside who specialise in adolescent counselling, including, Dr Mark Wetton, Miranda Mullins, Dr Stan Steindl (16+) Danielle Corbett, Cathy Dart and Kylie Layton.

Teenage Counselling

Photography Credit: goodncrazy.com/ety-kids-safe-listening-earbuds/

The teenage years can be a challenging time for parent and child alike and communication can be at an all time low. Speaking to a psychologist that specialises in adolescent counselling can assist adolescents with a range of concerns from mood disorders like anxiety and depression through to social and emotional challenges faced at this time.

Psychology Consultants have a number of Clinical Psychologists based at Newmarket and Morningside who specialise in adolescent counselling, including, Dr Mark Wetton, Miranda Mullins, Dr Stan Steindl (16+) Danielle Corbett, Cathy Dart and Kylie Layton.


What to do when your child’s FOMO spirals out of control

By Danielle Corbett, Clinical Psychologist, Psychology Consultants, Newmarket

For those of you that don’t know what FOMO stands for, don’t fear you have missed out. FOMO or Fear of Missing Out, is not actually as new age as your average 15- year-old might think.

More traditionally termed ‘The grass is always greener’ this primal human instinct to stay connected has recently been heightened by our addiction to smart phones, ipads, computer screens…and wait for it….social media.

Teenagers haven’t changed much over the generations, except that they now socialise or “hang out” online, rather than in shopping malls or at the local park, partly due to parental concerns about personal safety.  So instead of gossiping and doing all those adolescent behaviours in real life, they now watch it happen in real time on a screen.  To be on social media is to feel connected to their peers.  And just like in real life, events and interactions online can go pear-shaped rather rapidly.  The difference is though, if you are teenager and you go offline for an hour, suddenly you have missed the biggest dust-up or fight of the year, and on the social outer.

Social media get a pretty bad rap from health professionals across the world but what is so bad about staying connected, after all it’s a hard-wired human response? In fact, there is a dedicated part of the brain, the amygdala, part of the limbic system, specifically designed to detect whether our lives are in danger. Now it’s quite ridiculous to suggest that missing out on a Snapchat or Facebook Messenger event is life threatening but it triggers the same flight or fight response in our brains.

But jealously issues aside, our newfound need to be connected every waking moment is causing other psychosocial problems, particularly within the adolescent set.

Clinical Psychologist, Danielle Corbett, who specialises in adolescent psychology is seeing more and more cases of ‘FOMO’ related stress and anxiety.

“I am seeing many young clients who are in a state of vigilance with difficulties living in the present moment and it is this state of living that causes social and emotional problems such as anxiety and stress.

“Basically, social media is opposite of mindfulness in our youngsters, and in particular, girls are struggling with feelings of personal inadequacy, and difficulties living in the present” Ms Corbett said.

Recent research from University of Chicago found that social media is even more addictive than cigarettes and that getting your fix is equally as urgent to social media users.

Ms Corbett professional advice is; “Instead of trying to quash the urge completely, adolescents and those struggling with social media should embrace the need to be connected without letting it control your life.

“Learn to curb the overwhelming drive to be connected online and redirect it to communicating in real time with real people” she said.

Practicing mindfulness is another way to counteract some of the unwanted stress caused by social media. A few easy ways you can put this into practice are, enrolling your child in extracurricular activity, encouraging face to face socialisation (as this also helps build their adulating skillset), limiting internet times or allocating phone free time whilst going for a walk together. Parents might even find this this allows you to reconnect with your child who in a blink of an eye will have left the fold for good.

For more information on Danielle Corbett and the team of Clinical Psychologists at Psychology Consultants visit www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

How to Manage Schoolies Week- Trusting your Teenager

For thousands of teenagers across the nation, this week marks the start of their free life, leaving school and experiencing the real world.

Equally for thousands of parents this week brings a great deal of stress and anxiety as their children set off for schoolies week.

National Psychology Week (13-19 November) provides the perfect platform to talk to your teenager about setting boundaries, peer pressure, drugs and drinking.

Clinical Psychologist, Dr Stan Steindl, director of Morningside practice Psychology Consultants provides some useful tips to parents on dealing with schoolies week and the challenges that lie ahead.

“Open communication is key, talk about what to expect during schoolies week and try to set some boundaries of what is acceptable behaviour, ” said Dr Steindl

He comments that although it’s unrealistic to expect your teen to not drink, studies show that adolescents drink less and have fewer alcohol-related problems when their parents discipline them consistently and set clear expectations.

“It is also important to emphasise the negative effects of drugs and alcohol. One finding of a recent study showed that if we, as a society, “expect” teens to experiment with alcohol, they likely will,” he said.

Dr Steindl stresses the importance of being savvy. Knowledge is power and your teenager will love to think you are clueless.

“As a parent you need to balance firmness without being a micro-manager. It’s important to not overreact if boundaries are crossed and mistakes are made”, he said.

According to the Australian Medical Association approximately 90 percent of people have tried alcohol by the age of 14, and most Australians have consumed a full serve of alcohol before the age of 16.

In 2004, people in their 20’s were more than twice as likely to have consumed alcohol by the age of 14 than were people in their 40’s and 50’s.  There are indications that early initiation to alcohol use is related to more frequent use, higher consumption levels and the development of alcohol-related harms in adulthood, including mental health and social problems.


How to prevent sleep deprivation in teenagers

We all know that sleep is vital to our health and without it things quickly unravel. From the moment we are born our lives (and those of our parents) revolve around how many hours of sleep we are getting, sometimes to the point of obsession.

Much like babies, during adolescence our biological sleep patterns change meaning we don’t fall asleep until later, making that 6am alarm clock a real killer!

According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers required between 8-10 hours of sleep a night for their minds and bodies to function at optimal levels but due to lifestyle factors only 15% of teens actually sleep this much.

It’s a well-known fact that teenagers have delayed melatonin secretion at night and then elevated in the morning, meaning their body clocks don’t match their lifestyles with school commitments expecting them to rise early.

So how do we prevent sleep deprivation in our teenagers and help them achieve their best at school and maintain good mental health.

Here are a few helpful ways we can do just that.

  • Allow sleep ins on the weekend
  • Encourage early nights
  • Make Sundays early to bed night
  • Try to limit screen time within 1 hour of bed
  • Avoid scheduling activities early in the morning
  • Talk to your child about good sleep health (click here for more information on sleep health)


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