Depression is often called a silent killer. Its symptoms tend to be misunderstood and by the time that measures are undertaken, it may already be too late.

Moodiness, irritability and social withdrawal are often accompanying adolescence. As a result, parents would not know whether these are something to worry about or a normal part of their kids adapting to the world.

Depression is becoming increasingly common among teenagers in Singapore. If you suspect that your child could be suffering from depression or anxiety, there are things you can do to speed up their recovery.

Recognise the Signs

The first and the most important thing a parent can do is recognise the signs of anxiety and depression.

When trying to cope with emotional pain, teenagers will be likely to act out in ways that aren’t typical for them. Some of the ways in which depression could exhibit itself via the behaviour of an adolescent include the following:

  • Concentration difficulties that lead to problems at school and low grades
  • Social withdrawal
  • Running away from home
  • Very low self-esteem
  • Violent or aggressive behaviour (episodic)
  • Apathy and a loss of interest for activities that a teen was previously passionate about
  • Excessive guilt that is disproportionate for what’s going on
  • Irresponsible behaviour, for example, neglecting household chores
  • An excessive preoccupation with death that could eventually develop into suicidal tendencies
  • Use of alcohol or drugs

One of these, especially if it occurs a single time, may not necessarily be a sign of concern. If multiple troubling behaviours are being observed, however, or the issues continue for a longer period of time, help from a psychiatrist in Singapore may be sought.

Providing a Sense of Safety and Security

Singapore teens are facing various types of stress. These stem from educators, peers and even parents themselves. Once you understand that something is wrong, it will be up to you to alleviate some of the stress. Providing a sense of safety and security is one of the first steps on the road to recovery.

Talk with your child about their emotions and the negative things in their life. They could be subjected to bullying – a problem that’s increasing in scope and that could devastate or even end lives. Make them feel comfortable enough to confide in you. The more information you have, the easier it will be to seek adequate assistance.

Reduce the amount of stress your adolescent child is subjected to. If they’re dealing with a lot of schoolwork, you can temporarily reduce the number of chores. While teenagers need structure and they have to learn about responsibility, flexibility at home can prove to be invaluable when it comes to addressing external stressors.

Finally, it will be up to you (and a Singapore psychiatric professional of your choice) to help a child acquire the necessary coping skills. An inability to handle a difficult situation could often result in bad or addictive behaviours. When a teenager has the skills needed to address the issue in a healthy way, they will be much more likely to get over it without experiencing anxiety.

Do Not Blame Yourself

It’s a natural response to blame yourself for the problems your child is facing. After all, it is your responsibility as a parent to protect and guide a young individual through the challenges of life.

Blaming yourself for the development of adolescent depression, however, isn’t going to accomplish anything in terms of recovery.

Chronic depression is a mental illness. Parents often think that upbringing and even genetics are to blame for the psychological problem of their child. Most often, this isn’t the case. Instead of playing the blame game, look for a mental health therapy provider in Singapore. Therapeutic sessions for your child and a bit of education for you can give you a much better idea about what’s going on and whether you’re contributing to it in any way.

Look for Suicide Warning Signs

Depressed teens could potentially become suicidal if the condition is not addressed in an adequate manner early on. If a teenager is exhibiting many of the symptoms and the behaviours mentioned above, you will have to be watchful about eventual suicidal thoughts or even attempts.

Serious depression is linked to the abuse of alcohol and drugs, severe mood swings and withdrawal from society/apathy. Some of the suicide warning signs to watch out for in such circumstances include:

  • Talking about committing suicide (even if the topic is being brought up casually or in a humorous manner)
  • Romanticising death and believing that it is a positive thing
  • Engaging in reckless behaviour that could lead to self-harm
  • Starting to give away personal items or to say goodbye to loved ones
  • Writing about death and what it would be like to experience it

If you suspect your teenager may be suicidal, you should not postpone seeking help. Get in touch with an experienced Singapore psychiatrist immediately to learn what needs to happen next.

The Singapore Association of Mental Health has a hotline you could call if you’re in need of immediate action. The number to dial is 1800-283-7019. Another organisation that could provide assistance is Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) and their hotline is 1800-221-4444. These are the emergency numbers you can call if you don’t have a counsellor already.

Do not underestimate the importance of a mood swing or the loss of interest in a favourite activity. Your child could be screaming for help through certain behaviours. If you consider it a phase and you wait for it to pass, chances are that you’ll miss on an opportunity to offer early assistance.

Professionals like the clinicians from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic – Psychiatrists and Psychologists for Mental Health in Singapore can guide you through the process. We have the training, the skills and the experience to address the struggles of teens suffering from clinical depression. To learn more, contact us today to learn more about depression and to have your questions answered.

Article by Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic