Written by: Editorial team of Darmankadeh
Focus on listening, not lecturing.
Once your teenager starts talking, resist any criticism or judgment. The important thing is that your child is communicating. If you tell your teenager that you are completely and unconditionally by his/her side, you have done what is best.
Be gentle but persistent.
Do not give up if they avoid talking to you at first. Talking about depression can be exceedingly difficult for teenager. Even if they are willing to talk, they may have trouble expressing what they feel. Respect your child’s comfort while emphasizing your concern and willingness to listen.
Acknowledge their feelings.
Try talking to your teenager about depression, even if his/her feelings or concerns seem silly or irrational to you. Well-meaning attempts to explain why “the situation is not that bad” will come across as if you do not take their feelings seriously. Simply acknowledging the pain and sadness they are experiencing can go a long way in understanding and supporting them.
Trust your instinct.
Your teenager may claim there is no problem. But if there is no revelation for the cause of this depression, you must trust your instinct. If the teenager does not talk to you, turn to a trusted third party. A school counselor, favorite teacher, or a mental health professional. The important thing is to get them to talk to someone.
Coping with adolescent depression: encourage them to socialize
Depressed teenagers tend to withdraw from friends and activities they used to enjoy. But isolation only makes depression worse. So do what you can to help your teenager reconnect.
Prioritize face-to-face communication.
Set aside time each day to talk. During this conversation, you should focus completely on your teenager without distractions or trying to multitask. The simple act of talking face to face can play a key role in reducing your teenager’s depression. Remember that talking about your teenager’s depression or feelings will not make things worse. But your support can make a significant difference in their recovery.
Fight social isolation.
Do what you can to keep your teenager connected with others. Encourage them to go out with their friends or invite their friends over. Participate in activities with other families and give your child a chance to meet and interact with other children.
Increase volunteer activities.
Doing charitable deeds for others is anti-depressant and boosts self-esteem. Help your teenager find a job they are interested in. This causes them to approach their own goal in this work as well. It can be a good emotional bonding experience if you join them in volunteer work.
Coping with adolescent depression: Prioritize physical health
Physical and mental health are inextricably linked.
Depression increases due to inactivity, insufficient sleep, and improper nutrition. Unfortunately, teenagers are known to have unhealthy habits. Staying up late, eating food with low nutritional value and spending hours on smartphones are among these unhealthy habits. But you, as their parents, can combat these behaviors by creating a healthy and supportive environment at home.
Give your teenagers exercise!
Exercise is essential for mental health. Engage your teenager in activities. Ideally, teenager should be physically active for at least one hour a day. But there is no need for this activity to be boring and without excitement. Think differently. Dancing, shooting, walking, cycling, skateboarding and other activities are useful in this regard.
Set limits for screen usage.
Teenagers often enter cyberspace to escape their problems. But as time passes, physical activity and time spent with friends decreases. Both are factors in worsening of the symptoms.
Prepare nutritious and balanced meals.
Make sure your teenager is getting the nutrition they need to support optimal brain and mood health. Food such as healthy fats, quality proteins and fresh produce. Eating too many sugary and starchy foods will only have a negative effect on mood and energy in many depressed teenagers.
Encourage them to sleep more.
Teenagers need more sleep than adults, about 9-10 hours of sleep a night for their optimal performance. Make sure your teenager does not stay up late and get the rest she/he needs to relax.
Coping with adolescent depression: Know when you should seek help from experts
Support and healthy lifestyle changes can make an enormous difference in depressed teenagers. But this is not always enough. When depression is severe, seek the help of an experienced mental health professional to treat your teenager.
Give your child a choice in treatment options.
Always consider your teenager’s choice when choosing a specialist or pursuing treatment options. If you want your teenager to be motivated to pursue treatment, do not ignore his/her choices, or make unilateral decisions. No therapist is a miracle worker, and no treatment works for everyone. If your child feels uncomfortable or does not connect with a psychologist or psychiatrist, look for a better option.
Explore your options.
Discuss treatment options for your teenager with the specialist you have chosen. Talk therapy is often an appropriate initial treatment for mild to moderate depression. During treatment, your teenager’s depression may go away. If this is not the case, it may be necessary to use medicine.
Unfortunately, some parents feel compelled to elect antidepressants over other treatment options, which can be costly and time-consuming. However, you have time to carefully weigh your options unless your child is behaving dangerously or is at risk of suicide. In all cases, antidepressants are effective when they are part of a broader treatment plan.
Antidepressants were designed and tested on adults, so their effects on young, developing brains are not yet fully understood. Some researchers are concerned that exposure to antidepressants may interfere with normal brain development, particularly the brain’s control of stress and emotion regulation.
Antidepressants also carry risks and side effects, including safety concerns for children and adults. It was also found to increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in some teenagers and young adults. Especially teenagers with bipolar disorder, people with a family history of bipolar disorder or a history of previous suicide attempts are vulnerable.
The risk of suicide is highest in the first two months of antidepressant treatment. Adolescents taking antidepressants should therefore be closely monitored for any signs of worsening depression. Therefore, it is necessary to contact the doctor if you see these things:
- More new thoughts/talks about suicide
- Suicidal attempts
- New or worsening depression
- New or worsening anxiety
- Irritability or restlessness
- Cases of panic
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- New or worsening irritability
- Aggressive, angry, or violent behavior
- Engage in dangerous behaviors
- Hyperactive speech or behavior (mania)
- Other unusual changes in behavior
Coping with adolescent depression: Support your adolescent through depression treatments
As your depressed teenager moves through treatment, the most important thing you can do is let her/him know you are there to listen and support her/ him. Now more than ever, your teenager needs to know that you value, accept, and care for him/her.
Living with a depressed teenager can be difficult and overwhelming. At times, you may experience feelings of exhaustion, rejection, frustration, deterioration, or other negative emotions. During this time, it is important to remember that your child did not choose this behavior on purpose. Your teenager is suffering, so do your best to be patient and understanding.
Engage yourself in the therapy process.
Make sure your teenager attends counseling session and is taking the prescribed medicine correctly and follows all treatment instructions. Track changes in your teenager’s condition and call a doctor if depression symptoms worsen.
Your depressed teenager’s road to recovery may be bumpy, so be patient. Rejoice in small victories and prepare for occasional failures. Most importantly, do not judge yourself and do not compare your family to others. If you do everything you can to get your teenager the help their needs, you are doing your job.
Coping with teenager depression: Take care of yourself and other family members
As a parent, you may find that you focus all your energy and attention on your depressed teenager, neglecting the needs of yourself and the rest of your family. However, it is especially important that you continue to take care of yourself during these challenging times.
Most importantly, this means getting the support you need. You cannot do everything alone. So, obtain help from your family and friends. Having a support network will help you stay healthy and positive in your efforts to help your child.
Do not suppress your feelings.
Take care of your health.
Be honest with the family.
Do not shy away from the issue of teenager depression to “protect” other children. The kids know what is wrong. When you do not inform them, their imaginations often lead to worse outcomes. Be honest about what is going on and encourage your children to ask questions and talk about their feelings.
Do not forget other children either.
Depression in a child can cause stress or anxiety in other family members. Make sure that “healthy” children are not neglected. Siblings may need special individual attention or professional help to process their feelings about the situation.
It is easy to blame yourself or another family member for your teenager’s depression. But this only leads to a stressful situation. In addition, depression is usually caused by numerous factors. Therefore, it is unlikely that one of your loved ones is “responsible” for this problem.
In this article, ways parents deal with adolescent depression are examined. To get information in this field, it is better to use the guidance of a counselor or psychologist.