How to Help Your Depressed Teen: Tips and Strategies for Concerned Parents
When it comes to raising a family, mental health is not a discussion that may be raised, especially if you and your spouse are not affected by mental illness. During adolescence, young people encounter a number of changes and stresses that may lead to depressive episodes.
Whether this depression is temporary or a condition that will persist throughout adulthood, there are things that parents can do to help their teenagers if they exhibit signs of depression. Do you have concerns about your teen’s behavioral issues? If so, here are some tips and strategies that will help you support your depressed teen through these difficult times.
Learn more about what depression is and how it impacts your teen.
The biggest barrier to treatment is the lack of awareness and knowledge surrounding teen depression. Parents may believe that their teen’s mood swings, isolation, and other behaviors are characteristic of young adults. The problem? While some of these behaviors may not be so troublesome on their own, it is when they are in the presence of other major depression symptoms that there is cause for concern. But knowing what signs to look out for in your child during their teen years begins with taking the time to learn. What does depression look like?
Some common symptoms of depression (that you may notice) include:
- Depressed mood
- Increased irritability and anger
- Withdrawing from friends and family members
- Changes in sleeping patterns, either sleeping too much or too little
- Changes in eating patterns, eating more than usual or less than usual
- Low self-esteem
- Self-harm behaviors
- Suicidal thoughts or actions (If your child is harming themselves or at risk of harming themselves, seek emergency medical help!)
The most important thing to remember is that depressive symptoms will not always be clear. Keeping a close eye on teens for these symptoms of depression is key to making sure that you can provide them with the help they need.
Work on developing a better relationship with your child (and help them develop their relationship with themselves).
Making sure that your teen feels comfortable sharing their feelings with you makes it easier to help them treat their depression. While some young adults may feel like their depression is not natural or will be a burden to their family, sitting down with them and having a discussion about these issues can help you build a stronger relationship with them. You can also help them navigate these challenging times by spending more time with them and creating a safe space where they feel happy and cared for.
However, some of the work they will need to do will be on the relationship they have with themselves. For example, depression can greatly impact their self-esteem and make them feel as though they are unattractive or unloved. One way that you can help them is by boosting their self-confidence. For example, buying them petite formal dresses that they absolutely adore and that they feel great in can make a world of difference in how they carry themselves. You may also choose to purchase some new outfits and petite dresses of your own to lead by example. Helping them work on their own relationship is a great way to start helping them build resilience.
Seek out professional help to get them the support they need.
The truth is that, unless you are a mental health professional, teens will need the help of a professional in order to cope with and overcome their mental health issues. Sometimes, family therapy will be an effective treatment plan for those with minor depressive symptoms. However, others may have more serious depressive episodes and co-occurring mental illnesses like bipolar disorder or anxiety that complicates their mental health.
In instances like this, it is best to look into rehab for teenage depression that is equipped to provide your teen with the treatment program that they need. With the right quality of treatment, your teen can receive medication, therapy, and learn coping mechanisms that will help them cope with any depressive episodes they may experience in the future. Additionally, it will provide you with the resources you need to better support your child.
While having a teen with depression can be concerning, it is a mental health disorder that can be treated and managed with the right support. Do you believe that your teen may have depression? If so, use the tips provided above to learn more about what depression looks like and how you can start helping your child work through it.