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Puberty, depression and weighted blankets

Puberty, depression and weighted blankets

Transitioning from childhood to adulthood while going through puberty is a challenging time for adolescents as well as for parents. Along with physical changes, our kids also undergo various emotional, psychological, social, hormonal, sexual, cognitive, and neurological changes. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), clinical depression and anxiety have become an epidemic among teens and tweens (pre-teens). (1) Although there are endless reasons why our kids could suffer from excessive mood swings, anxiety, and depression; peer pressure, identity crisis, and conflict with the parents are the most common ones. At this crucial stage of their life, their actions are governed by their hormones and not their logical thinking abilities. We as parents must cooperate with them and make them feel comfortable so that don’t distance themselves from us. In this blog, we will discuss depression among adolescents and how we can help them transition smoothly. We will also brief you about weighted blankets and how they can make your tweens and teens feel calmed and relaxed.


Depression during puberty



Due to erratic hormonal changes, depression among teenagers is pretty common, although most parents ignore it assuming that their irritability is due to their crucial age. The World Health Organization states that mental health accounts for 16% of the global disease burden and injury among people aged 10 to 19 years. It also states that 50% of mental health issues start developing by the age of 14 and, unfortunately, most of the cases go undetected and untreated. This is the reason why depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among them and suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents between 15 to 19 years old. (2)

These statistics prove that teenage depression is a serious issue that needs to be accepted and treated correctly. If you do not address your teen’s mental health on time, it could extend to adulthood and it will severely affect him throughout his life. This is the reason why the World Health Organisation strongly recommend that parents must promote psychological well-being and must protect their adolescents from adverse consequences.

Reasons for teenage depression



As mentioned above, there could be hundreds of reasons why your teen or tween could feel anxious or depressed. Sometimes, they may not even have any reason and, yet, they may feel restless. However, here are some common reasons for teenage depression:


  • Hormonal changes: During puberty, the teenagers undergo significant hormonal changes and this is the most common reason why they show erratic behaviour during their teenage. Various studies have concluded that estrogen, the female sex hormone is linked to depression i.e. higher estrogen levels increase the chances of depression. So, this means, girls are more likely to suffer from depression than the boys during their puberty, as testosterone, the male sex hormone, is not known to cause any effect on the anxiety levels. (3)
  • Timing of the onset of puberty: Various studies have concluded that the timing of puberty onset can have a serious impact on the depression rates. Children who achieve puberty earlier than their peers or late than their peers often suffer from depression due to social pressure and peer pressure. (4) They could suffer from low self-esteem and may start worrying about their growth and development.
  • Lack of sleep: According to the American Addiction Centers, most teenagers suffer from sleeplessness during their adolescent years. The hormonal changes that they experience during this period affect their sleep too. Their sleep-wake cycle i.e. their circadian rhythm them get affected and they feel more alert during the night and find it difficult to fall asleep. However, they still have to get up at the same time to attend their school, complete their extracurricular activities, meet up their social schedules, and take out time for themselves too! They are under tremendous pressure due to their growing educational syllabus. Due to irregular and insufficient sleep, they suffer from poor concentration during the day and feel irritable and depressed. (5)
  • Developmental issues: Your teenager’s brain is still under development and this incomplete brain development is responsible for their emotional immaturity. Teenagers can get impulsive and even selfish during this period. Even though they can understand the difference between good and bad, they will still not be able to make the right decision due to their emotional immaturity. They can feel the emotions like anger, joy, and fear very strongly, and, therefore, we parents find them very irritable and moody. This emotional immaturity can further disturb their sleep, thereby decreasing their capacity of logical thinking.


Symptoms of depression during puberty



Irritability, anger, rebellious behaviour, specifically towards family members, change in eating and sleeping habits, falling for someone else, etc. are very common teenage acts. They do not indicate that your child is depressed or needs medical help. We all have been through teenage and we understand that such behaviour is normal due to excessive hormonal changes. However, if your child is experiencing one or more of the below-mentioned symptoms, you must seek medical help:

  • Withdrawal from friends
  • Feeling of sadness for apparently no specific reason, including crying spells
  • Getting frequently angry for no specific reason
  • Low self-esteem
  • Loss of interest in all activities that used to interest him/her earlier
  • Feeling of guilt or worthlessness
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide or self-harm
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Substance abuse
  • Frequent complaint of body aches
  • No interest in social involvement
  • Poor performance in school as well as in all other activities
  • Loss of energy
  • Excessive sensitivity towards small issues
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty in making decision

If your child is experiencing any of these signs, you must seek psychiatric help immediately. Don’t make your child feel that he/she is having a mental issue. Assure them that they are absolutely fine and this is just a routine consultation.


What to do to help your tween transition smoothly into adolescence



Being a teenage can be tough and being the parent of a teenager can be tougher. You and your child will probably reach a point where you both will stop trusting and communicating with each other assuming that no one is willing to understand the other person’s point of view. Such things are pretty common. When we were teens, we had the same issue with our parents and now our children are having it with us. At this crucial time, rather than being a conventional, strict, discipline-driven parent, we need to be more friendly and communicative. The World Health Organization recommends that parents must help their teens and tweens adopt healthy sleep patterns, exercise regularly, develop a coping, problem-solving attitude, and learn how to manage emotions during tough times. Parents should provide a supportive, encouraging atmosphere to their kids where they are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them instead of being forced upon to stick to the decisions of their parents. (6)


How can weighted blankets help during adolescence



As mentioned above, as informed parents, it is our duty to ensure that our teens maintain a healthy lifestyle despite all the emotional, physical, and social challenges that they are facing. Sleep plays a crucial role here. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprived people have a tenfold risk of suffering from depression compared to those who sleep well. (7) To help your child develop a good sleeping habit, you must encourage him/her to be physically active. You can motivate them to join any sports they like. The more physically active they will be, the better they will be able to sleep at night.

Teenagers often feel restless and anxious when they go to bed. To minimise the restlessness, you can buy them a weighted blanket. These anxiety blankets are heavy in weight and are designed to provide you the feeling of a tight hug. Also known as stress blankets, the weighted blankets for kids offer deep pressure therapy, which is clinically proven to help people feel relaxed. (8) The deep pressure therapy provided by the weighted blankets for kids helps stimulate the production of serotonin, the happy hormone and melatonin, the sleep hormone. These two hormones will help your child feel relaxed and doze off quickly. When he will enjoy a good sleep, your child is going to feel fresh, energetic, and positive during the day.

Thankfully, weighted blankets are widely available online as well as with your nearest supermarket. You need to buy one that is 10% of your child's body weight plus 2 lbs. This weight is sufficient enough to make your child feel relaxed and it will not make him feel overburdened or suffocated. To avoid overheating, we always recommend buying a blanket that is made of 100% cotton breathable fabric. Mink and fleece weighted blankets look glossy and feel soft, but they can cause overheating as well as allergic skin reactions. Natural cotton as the best option and is suitable for all weathers. As far as the filling is concerned, we strongly recommend glass beads or poly-pellets. Refrain from buying the ‘so-called’ organic weighted blankets, as their organic filling will not last longer. Rice, corn pellets, barley, etc. are commonly used as organic fillings. As obvious, these products can rot and stink. They are not washable at all. Further, being organic, they will soon start harboring bacteria and molds. Within a few months, they will become completely useless.

As a concerned parent, you would probably want the best weighted blanket for your child, which is why we strongly recommend AG weighted blankets for kids.  The filling and fabric both are hypoallergenic and non-toxic. AG weighted blankets come with 100% money-back guarantee and 3 years warranty. Therefore, you can freely order one for your teen and see how they like it.

Being a teenager, your child will probably resist the idea of using a weighted blanket for insomnia. So, you need to explain him that this blanket is going to help him sleep better and nothing more. You can probably buy one for yourself too, so that he doesn’t feel he is being treated in a different way. Weighted blankets are safe for everyone except toddlers and elderly people who cannot move the blanket on their own. If your child refuses to use it, don’t force him. Thankfully, AG weighted blankets offer 7 days trial. So, in case your teen doesn’t like it or refuses to use it, you can simply return it.


Please note that weighted blankets can only help your child feel relaxed and sleep well. This is going to solve a lot of anxiety issues but, if your child is still behaving strangely, do not hesitate to consult an adolescent psychiatrist. Chronic depression needs a thorough treatment. Weighted blanket can help but it cannot be an alternative to counselling and medicines. If medical help is required, please seek it before depression takes a toll on his studies, self-esteem, behavior, and overall personality.


References and Citations:

  1. NAMI. Home.
  2. Adolescent mental health. World Health Organization.
  3. Wang H, Lin SL, Leung GM, Schooling CM. Age at Onset of Puberty and Adolescent Depression: "Children of 1997" Birth Cohort. Pediatrics. Published June 1, 2016.
  4. Wang H, Lin SL, Leung GM, Schooling CM. Age at Onset of Puberty and Adolescent Depression: "Children of 1997" Birth Cohort. Pediatrics. Published June 2016.
  5. Mental/Emotional/Social Changes Through Puberty. Mental Help MentalEmotionalSocial Changes through Puberty Comments.
  6. Adolescent mental health. World Health Organization.
  7. Depression & Sleep. National Sleep Foundation.
  8. Harvard Health Publishing. Anxiety and stress weighing heavily at night? A new blanket might help. Harvard Health.