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Self-Medicating for Depression in Teens

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Teens who suffer from depression are more likely to also abuse drugs and alcohol. Many do so to self-medicate for their depression, but this only makes the condition worse. It is important to help our teens develop positive ways to handle their depression, and get professional help if necessary.

Symptoms of Depression

A teen with depressive symptoms will show increased moodiness, will want to spend more time alone in their room, will have a difficult time relating to friends and adults, and will show a carelessness for normal activities. Parents should be aware of their teen’s behavior and feelings, and be ready to seek help if necessary. A parent who dismisses warnings as normal teenage behavior may be putting their teen at risk.

Dangers of Drug Abuse

Depressed teens are twice as likely to use illicit drugs as other teens. They use these substances to self-medicate, in an attempt to feel better. But drug abuse can actually make depression worse. Marijuana, a common drug for self-medicating teens, can lead to more serious mental disorders, including anxiety, schizophrenia, and suicide.

Home Remedies

There are healthy ways for teens to safely self-medicate for depression at home, without drugs. Eating healthy foods helps stabilize the body and mind. Exercising regularly can improve mood and release positive endorphins. Finding a good friend or adult to confide in can take some of the pressure off. Getting a good night’s sleep can work wonders.

Professional Help

Sometimes, however, self remedies don’t work. A teen that is truly suffering with depression should be taken to get professional help. A doctor might prescribe medication, or psychotherapy, or most likely a combination of both. During treatment, parents should be aware of the treatment regimen, encourage their teen to keep counseling and doctor appointments, and to properly take their medication. It is ok in these instances for parents to step in and be a little more involved, and kind of hold their teen’s hand through the process. Parents must at this time fill the role of rock and defender for their child, while they work to overcome depression. Parents should be responsible for getting their teen help for depression. The teen years can be overwhelming and confusing, and having a stable adult care for them and get them through this time can be a life-saver.

For teens, depression symptoms may get better with treatment, or disappear completely. For other teens, this may be only the beginning of a lifetime of depression. Either way, the most effective thing to do is seek help so symptoms don’t worsen, and so teens don’t desperately turn to substance abuse to manage.


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Bethany Winkel

This article was written by Bethany Winkel

Joining the TSN online family in 2008, Bethany has used her skills as a writer to reach many people through her blog. Always eager to be a help to others, she is pleased to see her writing become a source of information, encouragement, and hope for those impacted by substance abuse. Bethany is happy to be involved with an organization that is making a difference in the lives of others. Bethany has also held the position of development coordinator for a nonprofit youth center for the past 6 years. With her expertise in grant writing, Bethany has raised over $1 million for programming that benefits at-risk youth. The happy mother of 4 young children, Bethany juggles her writing from home with spending time with her family. If her hours of research for her TSN blog articles have taught her one thing, it is to be an involved parent who takes time to listen to her kids.

1 comment:

Joan EdmeFebruary 1, 2011 at 9:49 pmReply

I am a health care worker and I am a facilitor in Peer support and MIA. I had switch careers to seek out addictions and mental health. i am finding this career change worth while, because it is very hard to recover from an addiction. My hat’s off to anyone who used self direction for their recovery. I am enjoying working with the 12 steps it took me a while to really understand the meaning of the words, The serenity pray also is just a simple pray, but it you really focus on the meaning, it will be rewarding. One step at a time, To each one, Teach One, Save One.