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A Mental Health Expert’s Advice On What To Watch For

Kristen Wilson, MA, LPC, CCTP, Vice President of Clinical Outreach for Newport Healthcare

Nearly a third of high school students in Wisconsin report feeling sad or hopeless nearly every day, according to the Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health. One in six has seriously considered suicide. And 60 percent of Wisconsin teens with major depression do not receive established treatment.

“This pandemic is wreaking havoc on mental health,” says Kristen Wilson, MS, LPC, CCTP, vice president of clinical communication for Newport Healthcare, which provides adolescent and youth mental health treatment at locations nationwide. “A lot of teens struggle socially.”

Family therapy can help

When working with families who are concerned that their teenage son may be depressed, Wilson says, “I always tell parents that they know their child best and should trust their gut.” “If you feel like something is off, it’s possible that something is off, and you should consider working with a professional.”

Newport Healthcare recently opened a new outpatient program in Milwaukee (844-410-2070) to address the ongoing mental health crisis among young adults. Newport treats clients between the ages of 12 and 27, using a clinical model of care focused on treating the underlying causes of mental health problems.

Newport is the only treatment program that uses attachment family therapy as the basis of its approach, with the goal of repairing the rupture of attachment between parent and child so that young people have a strong emotional support system.

We asked Wilson to share some common warning signs that a teen is depressed.

7 signs a teen may be depressed

1. Changes in appetite

Loss of appetite is a common sign of depression, but Wilson also points out that cravings for sugary foods are another red flag. “These foods can be a way to calm oneself,” she says.

2. Avoid social situations

Monitor the amount of time your teen spends with his or her friends. If the balance is shifting more and more towards social withdrawal and isolation, it could be a sign of a problem.

3. Shame and extreme self-criticism

“Depression can feel like a teenager saying, ‘I’m stupid, I’m a failure.’ They really internalize the idea that they are not good enough, or that something is wrong with them.”

4. Losing interest in things they used to enjoy

Spending less time with old hobbies may be a perfectly normal sign of growing up in a teen – a red flag is when they don’t replace that activity with something new that brings them happiness.

5. moodiness

Recurring feelings of sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness can be signs of depression. “Be aware of how often and how intensely your teen is feeling these kinds of emotions,” Wilson says.

6. Forgetfulness or trouble concentrating

“If you have a child who is usually focused, alert, and good at managing time, and suddenly this becomes something they struggle with, it can be a red flag,” Wilson says. This can sometimes manifest as poor grades in school.

7. Changing sleep patterns

Your teen might be tired all the time and fall asleep in the middle of the day — or they can’t fall asleep at night or have trouble staying asleep. “It’s really about noticing the differences in your teen’s behavior patterns,” Wilson says.

A path from depression to ‘sustainable recovery’

The Newport Milwaukee Outpatient Program treats adolescents with anxiety, depression, trauma, and other mental health and co-occurring disorders. The program, which is in-network with most major insurance providers, offers a variety of outpatient options, from a few hours a day to full days, five days a week, depending on the needs of the client and family.

Newport has a strong academic program and works directly with schools to ensure teens continue to advance in their education while receiving the treatment they need.

“We believe in sustainable healing,” Wilson says. “We bring youth from self-destruction to self-esteem.”



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