It can be deeply distressing to watch a loved one struggle with depression. If your teen has been going through a depressive episode lately, it can be frustrating to know that your options for helping them are ultimately rather limited. But that doesn’t make you powerless.
Learning How to Help a Teen with Depression Together
Parents and other loved ones often underestimate the role they play in their teen’s depression treatment. Therapists and intensive outpatient care can go a long way towards developing a teen’s resilience towards depressive episodes, as well as introducing healthy coping skills, and getting started on a slew of important knowledge about recognizing the signs of a major depressive episode, and properly dealing with the stressors that can exacerbate such episodes.
But when all is said and done, teens come back home to their families, go back to school to hang out with their friends, and continue to live their lives with the people they’ve always known. It’s these existing support networks that are so crucial for the long-term healing of a teen with depressive symptoms.
Talk to your teen’s therapist or counselor about family therapy sessions. Engage in psychoeducation to learn more about depression and adjunct mental health issues. Be there for your teen, bringing them to and from therapy, and staying engaged with their mental and physical well-being over time. Even on days when it feels like your interventions and efforts aren’t doing much good, understand that they are.
Recognizing the Lesser-Known Signs of Teen Depression
It can be hard to recognize depression. Some signs and symptoms are more obvious and more well-known than others.
In addition to sadness, depression can result in body image issues, irritability towards friends and family, problems with hygiene, restlessness, insomnia, rapid weight gain or rapid weight loss, as well as excessive fatigue (no matter how much a teen rests).
Teen Depression and Self-Harm
There are a few things to keep in mind if you want to initiate a conversation about potential self-harm, or if you’re worried that your teen is frequently thinking about suicide. First, check in with them. Do so often. Not just to find out how they’re feeling physically, but how they’re doing in general.
Talk to them about school. About their hobbies. About friends or fond memories. About things that weigh heavily on their mind. Don’t start with an ominous “we need to talk”, or an ambush. Ask your teen how things have been going, while driving them around, or while preparing a meal at home. Pick a place you’re both comfortable with. You may also want to talk to a professional about your worries and take note of your teen’s behaviors or words, in case a more immediate intervention becomes necessary.
If you continue to worry for your child’s safety or believe that they might harm themselves, be sure to contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, by dialing or texting 988 or visiting their website, and get in touch with a trained counselor immediately.
Depression is one of the most diagnosed mental health issues worldwide, in teens and adults alike. On average, nearly every person in the US may know someone who has struggled with a depressive episode. Studies tell us that about 8.4 percent of all US adults experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2020 alone.
However, that leaves most of us no better equipped to deal with depression when it begins to affect us, or those we love. As such, we get plenty of questions from parents and other teens alike asking about depression.
Some of the most common ones include:
How can I approach a teenager who may be experiencing depression?
If you’re worried about the way your teen has been acting lately, or if you think you recognize some of their behaviors as signs of depression, then the first step should be to talk to your teen. Ask them how they’ve been feeling lately and talk about what they’ve been up to. Check in with them, time and time again.
What should I do if my teen opens up to me about their depression?
Listen to them. If you can relate or have experienced similar things as a teen, talk to them about your experiences. Sometimes, teens will want solutions or ways to “fix” how they’re feeling. If that’s the case, talk to them about looking for help together. Other times, they just want someone to listen to what they’ve been thinking, feeling, and holding inside.
How can I encourage a teenager with depression to engage in activities that they used to enjoy?
It can be hard to motivate a teen to do the things they used to like doing, especially if they’ve picked up new hobbies and interests. But when the issue isn’t a change of interest, but depression, it can be much harder. Bring it up, time and time again – not too often, but consistently. Consider trying out new things with them, as well.
Getting the Help
If your teen’s depression is getting worse, or if you want to learn more about adolescent depression treatment options, get in touch with us at Visions Teen Treatment or give us a call.
Even on days when it doesn’t feel like it, friends and family members are the most important people in a depressed teen’s life. Your continued support and attentiveness are key to making headway against some of the worst symptoms of depression. But don’t forget to take care of yourself, as well. It’s all too easy to begin to neglect your own needs when taking care of a loved one. If you want to learn more about helpful treatment plans for teens with depression, get in touch with us at Visions Teen Treatment.