It’s never fun to see a friend or loved one struggling with depression or going through any hard time. Such a situation is even worse when it’s your child struggling with adolescent depression.
Adolescence is often a challenging time of life in many ways. Teens encounter many new situations that can test their coping skills and decision making. They can be excruciatingly sensitive to their peers; comparison to others can create significant emotional strain.
There’s pressure around school and future career decisions. Romantic relationships add to the emotional load. And their desire for greater independence from their parents can also contribute to this stressful time.
There are things you can do, though, to help your child through adolescent depression.
Provide a Listening Ear
As the parent of a teen, you’ve probably heard them often sigh when you try to talk with them and share your perspective. This response can be frustrating. After all, you’re just trying to help. But, like anyone, sometimes just teens need someone to listen to them.
Challenge yourself to step back and bite your tongue if they bring something up. Just let them talk. You might be surprised at what happens. And they might be surprised, as well.
Again, this can be a hard one. Parents are naturally inclined to try to provide guidance and advice. You might think you know exactly what your teen should do in a specific situation. They might feel like you’re viewing them as incompetent.
Instead of trying to get them to do what you think they should do, show empathy. Respond with kindness. Try to work with their unique personality and needs instead of trying to solve their problems in your own way.
Encourage Social Interaction
Many children who struggle with adolescent depression find it very hard to socialize. While spending time with others can be even harder now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can look for other ways.
You may have to take small steps, such as having a family movie night where little conversation is required. Outdoor gatherings where people can socially distance are another excellent option. Even video chats with other teens or family members could work.
Set a Good Example
It’s essential that your teen sees you managing adversity and overwhelming emotions in a positive way. How do you respond when you encounter something discouraging? Do you get angry and take it out on other people? Do you withdraw? Or do you try to look for solutions?
If you reach out for help during your struggles, in whatever manner needed, you’re showing your teen what self-care looks like.
Along these same lines, your example can show them what it looks like to be resilient. Resiliency is vital for all people to learn. It involves learning to handle challenges, knowing when to ask for help, keeping an open mind, and not letting a situation determine one’s attitude and outlook.
If your teen hasn’t had a thorough physical in a while, consider taking them in for one. Sometimes other health conditions can cause adolescent depression.
Likewise, encourage physical activity and nutritious eating habits. The brain and the body are closely connected. Junk food, sugar, and caffeine contribute to low energy. Blood sugar spikes can affect mood, as well.
If you feel like all of your efforts to help your depressed teen aren’t going anywhere, it can be a good idea to reach out to a counselor. Sometimes, teens respond better to adults who aren’t their parents. They may be more open to talking to someone else and more open to receiving advice.
If you’re ready to help your teen move forward, please call my office today to learn more.