Kanata-area psychologists estimate that as much as 20% of the population will suffer from depression during the teen years. Teen depression isn’t simple: Many things—genetic predisposition, family upbringing, stressful situations or events all increase the risk of developing teen depression. Therapists with Kanata counselling practices point out that what’s particularly unsettling is that, left untreated, teen depression can lead to other serious problems in the teen years, like substance abuse, academic failure, eating disorders, self-harm (i.e. cutting) and even suicide.
Though personalities and communication styles of families differ, many psychologists in Kanata and the greater Ottawa region agree that the teen’s family is a very important part of the picture when it comes to avoiding adolescent depression, or at least lessening its severity or effects. Parents especially are in the unique position to be a positive and strong presence and exert a positive influence on their teenager’s mental health. Yet, make no mistake, it is no secret that there are unique parenting challenges when it comes to raising teens; while providing such an encouraging environment may sound like an obvious thing to do, what does this actually look like during the roller-coaster years of adolescence?
Kanata counselling professionals often suggest a great place to start is to be intentional—with respect to the family’s communication as well as its behaviours and expectations. While both the prevention and treatment of adolescent depression needs to be approached from a whole family perspective, Kanata psychologists note several family characteristics which studies have indicated can reduce the risk of depression overall: When confident parental leadership provides a warm, positive, non-critical environment with little conflict, particularly between parents and their children, the risk of emotional problems throughout adolescence and beyond seems to reduce dramatically.
Even with strong family support, though, psychologists in Kanata concede life’s pressures can become too much for everyone especially a teen as they try to figure who they are. As teens transition from childhood to adult, questioning who they are and where they belong, stresses, worries, and even tragedy can create a downward spiral. However, even with a depressed teenager in the home, families can still exert a powerful influence on the mental health of their child. In addition to seeking counselling in Kanata, Kanata psychologists often reiterate the importance of parents maintaining the habit of communicating with clear, positive messages, keeping calm and collected even in the face of any aggression, being flexible with expectations (choosing battles wisely), but setting firm boundaries and sticking to them.
Whatever the composition, teens need their families, and the whole family needs support when one member is suffering. Acknowledged or not, teenagers rely on trusted adults to recognize their suffering and get them help they need. Being able to benefit from regular counselling in Kanata can give teens the ability to restore their emotional balance, improve relationships, and develop a more confident sense of self.