TMS Therapy for Adolescent and Teen Depression

Adolescent and teen depression is a growing concern, with nearly 10% of our nations youth suffering from severe major depression. Sadly, only 50 percent seek treatment. Depression in youth often co-occurs with other disorders, such as substance abuse, anxiety, and behavioral disorders. Recognizing the symptoms is the first step in seeking treatment. TMS therapy for adolescent and teen depression may save your child’s life.

Adolescents Diagnosed with Depression

Approximately 50 percent of adolescents with depression get diagnosed before reaching adulthood. Further, only 2 in 3 depressed teens don’t seek the care they need to assist their depression. In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatricians updated its guidelines to include a universal depression screening. The new guidelines state that all youth over 12 years of age be screened annually for depression.

While schools, parents, and physicians are becoming more aware of the growing concern for the mental wellbeing of our youth, there remains a lot of work to be done. There’s about a 20 percent chance that a person of this age group will develop depression or anxiety, or both. Awareness is only the first step. Recognizing the causes, symptoms, risks and getting proper treatment is key to assisting our youth with their mental health.

Why today’s youth struggle more than ever before

Adolescence is a challenging time developmentally for both the child and the parents. Academics and social pressures play a significant role in adolescent and teen depression. Additionally, the impact of screen time should not be underestimated. Research suggests that teens who spend several hours a day glued to on-screen social media or other activities are more likely to be unhappy. Social media brings a host of challenges for our youth. The negative influence it can have should be reason enough to limit the on-screen time with our children. One study found that eighth-graders who spent more than 10 hours a week on social media have a 56 percent greater risk of being ‘unhappy.’

Social media and peer pressure

Teens who spend 3 or more hours a day on electronic devices have a 35 percent higher risk of suicide.

When social media is combined with peer pressure, our adolescent’s and teens’ risk of depression and anxiety is even greater. This age group is vulnerable to comparison, cyberbullying, perfectionism, and the desire to be accepted by their peers. Before the impact of social media, the home was a ‘haven’ for those who were bullied or felt unaccepted at school. Unfortunately, now that most children have cell phones and computers by the age of 12, this screen time at home takes away the ‘haven.’ Since the COVID outbreak, our youth’s on-screen time has spiraled out of control.

Recognizing the symptoms of adolescent and teen depression in your child

It’s not easy for a young person to talk about depression. Too often, they have no idea why they feel the way they do. It affects a person’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Everyone responds to depression and anxiety differently. Oftentimes, parents and school personnel don’t recognize the symptoms. When an adolescent or teen is suffering from symptoms of depression, they may isolate, oversleep, act out, or use self-medicate with drugs. Parents and school counselors, and teachers tend to assume this is normal behavior for many teens.

It can be difficult to balance the ups and downs of school and relationships with parents and friends as a teen. Sometimes, the lows can become overwhelming. When this occurs, symptoms of depression and anxiety can ensue. Depression can feel very lonely. While some teens may show signs of depression, it’s important to understand that others may hide how they feel and appear to be the ‘life of the party to their friends.

Depression occurs at any age

Depression can occur at any age for several reasons, both genetic and environmental. The most common symptoms for a parent or teen to be aware of may include the following:

  • persistently feeling down or blue
  • feelings of hopeless or like everything in life is going wrong
  • less interest or pleasure in usual or typical activities
  • withdrawing from family and friends
  • persistent boredom with a lack of motivation to get out of the bedroom
  • sleeping more than usual with no desire to get out of bed
  • relationship difficulties
  • hanging with a whole new set of friends (atypical friends)
  • engaging in risky behaviors (self-harm, drinking, illicit drugs, etc.)
  • less communication, isolation, difficulty communicating
  • poor school work (drop in grades or lower performance in school or sports)
  • low self-esteem or feelings of guilt
  • over sensitive to rejection or failure
  • irritability or argumentative behavior, defensiveness

Evaluating depression

The above list of symptoms may include some behaviors that are typical for a teen. However, if there is a change in behavior that seems out of the norm, it is important to evaluate depression. If you are concerned that your child may be suffering from a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety, you may also consider the following:

  • Has your child’s eating habits changed?
  • Has their sleeping habits changed?
  • Do they complain of feeling ill or sick more?
  • Are they missing school more frequently?
  • Do you suspect they are drinking alcohol or using drugs?
  • Is your teen more argumentative or defensive than usual?
  • Have you noticed the symptoms persisting for more than 2-3 weeks?

What to do if your adolescent or teen shows symptoms of depression

The most important thing is not to ignore symptoms of depression or anxiety. Depression is not reserved for adults and is a serious medical condition for all ages. Depression can have a significant impact on your mental and physical health and can lead to suicide. Seeking a thorough evaluation and exploring all treatment options is critical. It is best always to rule out any physical cause for the symptoms your child is experiencing first.

If you feel your child may be experiencing thoughts of suicide, you should talk about how they feel. Please encourage your child to share their thoughts and feelings. Often they will not feel comfortable taking the first step.

There are limited treatment options for depression and anxiety. This includes medications, psychotherapy, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS therapy). TMS therapy for adolescent and teen depression is increasingly being used across the U.S. as an effective and preferred treatment option without the side effects of medications. Knowing the pros and cons of each is important before deciding on treatment.


Antidepressant medications, while typically safe, are often accompanied by unpleasant side effects. In fact, there are warnings about teens and the use of antidepressants. Some of these include worsening symptoms, suicidal thoughts and attempts, increasing irritability, worsening anxiety, and impulsivity. On the other hand, antidepressants can help some teens. The other thing to consider with antidepressants is that they often take several weeks (up to six or eight weeks) before working.


A therapist or a counselor generally provides psychotherapy. It should be with someone who is licensed and experienced in providing therapy to adolescents and teens. Therapy can be beneficial and should be strongly considered. While it may not be advantageous for some people, it can never hurt to try. Therapy can assist with learning to cope more effectively. It can also help to identify the source of depression. There are no side effects from therapy, so it should always augment a medication or TMS therapy.

TMS Therapy (transcranial magnetic stimulation)

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS therapy) is the most advanced form of depression treatment. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2008 for the treatment of severe major depression in adult patients who did not receive satisfactory benefits from antidepressant medications. Although it is not yet FDA-approved for youth, there is much research to support TMS therapy for adolescent and teen depression. Many physicians are using TMS to treat depression in this age group.

The greatest benefit of TMS is the fact that it doesn’t cause any systemic side effects, such as those experienced with antidepressant medications. TMS can be done in as little as five to ten days if using the theta-burst treatment protocol. However, not all TMS therapy treatment clinics offer this treatment. Some only offer the standard treatment protocol, consisting of approximately thirty-six 19-minute treatment sessions conducted five times a week for about six weeks.

The only downside to TMS is it’s typically only covered by insurance for those ages 18 and older. However, there is no cost too great for the mental wellbeing of a child, and most treatment clinics offer TMS for a reasonable cost.

Depression in adolescents and teens is treatable. If your child is experiencing symptoms that are consistent with depression, never assume it’s normal behavior. It is better to intervene early on rather than wait until they engage in self-medicating behaviors or risk-taking their own life.

Therefore, if you suffer from depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, or another condition, and you are seeking TMS therapy as a treatment option, TMS Directory can connect you with someone in your area who specializes in treating these conditions with the most advanced forms of medicine. Please Follow Us On Facebook.

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