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8 Tips for Parents of Teens with Depression

Debora V
Senior Editor, TipsHire

Fighting depression is not an easy task for adults, but it is even harder for teenagers

Adolescence itself is a troubled time for children, and parents’ mission isn’t an easy one, since they’ll have to keep up with all their teens’ mood changes and anger outbursts. It may be difficult to tell when your teenagers suffers from depression or goes through a normal state of their age, but any change in their behavior should not be neglected. It is extremely important to discover the early signs of depression in order to prevent the complications it can cause them and the consequences that can lead to problems even in adulthood.

When left untreated, depression leads to different problems, including a reduced performance at school, increased risks of substance abuse, difficulty to socialize, increased risks of physical illness and even suicide attempts. In a warm and protective environment, teens can easier fight depression.

Signs of depression

Depression is a common thing among teenagers, so if you notice any changes in your child, don’t panic. It doesn’t mean that you have done something wrong, because 1 in 5 teenagers has suffered from depression during their adolescence. The first sign of depression is sadness that occurs without a particular cause. When the sadness that teenagers feel doesn’t go away, but continues, it is a common sign of depression. Pay attention to any change in your child behavior and recognize any behavioral change, in order to be prepared to intervene on time if there is a problem.

You can expect from depressed teenagers to experience irritation, anger, anxiety, headaches, stomachaches, a change in their sleep habits and the lack of energy or motivation. Teenagers with depression may feel hopeless and prefer to isolate themselves, spend more time alone and withdraw from friends and different activities.

Other symptoms may include apathy, low self-esteem, poor school performance, difficulty in concentrating, weight gain or loss, feelings of quilt, overreaction to criticism, agitation, restlessness, substance abuse and the presence of suicidal thoughts. Because preventing is better than curing, the best thing a parent can do for his / her child is to keep them close, to know them very well and to figure out in time when they go through changes.

1.Find out all there is to know about depression

At the slightest suspicion that your child may be experiencing depression, it is good to understand exactly how it manifests. It is difficult to identify a problem you don’t know how to recognize. It helps to learn the essential facts about depression, such as what its signs are, how to prevent it, what the risks are and, nevertheless, how to cure it. Therefore, the first thing you’ll learn is that depression is a serious medical condition responsible for the appearance of physical and psychological symptoms. It could happen at any age and teenagers are most likely to go through such a period.

2.Listen, even when your teen is not saying anything

Are you convinced or do you suspect that your teenager has depression? At this point, listening to your child is the key that will help you fight depression. Poor communication between parents and children is the root of many problems, including teenager’s suicide. Unfortunately, most depressed teens think about suicide, even though they try to hide their thoughts.

Don’t expect your child to mention something about his or hers frightening thoughts, but try to read between the lines. Sometimes, they see suicide as the saving solution that will take them out of their painful suffering. If you notice that your child is apathetic, sad or pensively, don’t let him out of your sight. Try to listen to him even if he isn’t saying a word. Just notice what’s going on. Sometimes, we can find a cry for help in isolation, lack of communication, anger and irritability. All these can hide that something is wrong.

If you are lucky enough that your child wants to talk to you, be there for him and listen carefully everything he has to say. Never judge before understanding exactly what is happening. Give your children a chance to explain their choices and actions and try to understand them. Avoid assuming or accusing and try a kind and friendly approach.

Be clear you want to help them and help them think for themselves. They need to understand the negative effects of bad behavior choices. Therefore, you can explain the negative effects of smoking and making them understand how it can affect their health. Earn your child’s trust and help him become a well-balanced and responsible adult with good self-esteem.

3.Seek proper help

It is no shame in admitting that your teen depression can exceed your limits and you need specialized help. Soon after you notice changes in your teen’s behavior that make you worry it is essential to seek for professional help. Mental health professional are the ones able to help to prevent any suicide attempt of your teens, but also to treat depression.

It’s good to talk to a specialist at the slightest suspicion, but especially if you notice your teen loss of interest in friends and activities once considered enjoyable, aggressive behavior, the abuse of alcohol and other drug, bullying or being a bully at school, sexual orientation or identity confusion. It is also recommended to seek professional help if in your family is a history if suicide or if they had to suffer the loss of a dear one.

Make sure to find a mental health provider that has experience with youth suicide and makes your child feel comfortable to talk to. In serious situation, when danger cannot be avoided, call the emergency number or take your child to the nearest emergency room.

4.Encourage attending an interest group

Once you recognize the signs of depression in your teen, there are many things you can do to help him recover. It is better to be surround by people, than to be alone. If your child is passionate about something, like chess, history, music, painting, football, sewing or quilting, it is a great opportunity to help him make new friends, by encouraging him to go to a group of people who participates in these activities. Even though it is a group with adults, it can be a positive experience for them that will help them overcome the sadness and the emptiness of depression. It can be fun to be surrounded by people who share the same hobby and interests. Nevertheless, it can be a proof that in life are other things important than being the coolest kid on high school.

5.Spend as much time together as possible

Quality family time is the healing key of any problem, even if it is a health one, especially when it comes to depression. Getting support, love and caring from their dear ones help them feel loved, appreciated and special. Try to spend as much time with them as you can, while doing the things they love, just to help them forget about their negative thoughts and show them how beautiful life is and how much they mean to you.

Try to be creative in finding interesting and fun activities to spend time with your children. Whether it is a family meal, a fun day in the park, a night out at their band’s favorite concert, a day at the cinema or a short walk to the zoo, your teenagers can laugh again and forget about their sufferance, even if this happens only for two hours. Do you feel that your child needs more attention? Plan the whole day just for them and offer them all the attention they need! It can be an excellent confidence boost and a great opportunity to spend some quality time with children and create unforgettable memories.

6.Make sure your teen is feeling safe

Does your child feel safe? You should definitely find it out, because even the slightest feeling of insecurity makes them be even more isolated. You want to gain their trust and help them open up to you. Most of the times, teenagers are afraid to share their problems with an adult, because they think it will only make things worse. Make sure they understand that you are there to help them and you will do only the things they allow you to and nothing else.

Gaining your children trust is essential especially if they are victims of bullying. When your child tells you that they are a victim of bullying, listen carefully to everything they have to say and explain clearly that this situation is not normal and that they are not the one to blame.

Many teenagers thing it is their fault for being bullied, which, obviously, isn’t true. Help your child to build up their confidence and assure them that you are there for them, to face this problem together. Knowing that you will support and understand them, no matter the situation, is crucial for boosting their self-esteem, as well as for preventing a serious episode of depression and the complications it may bring.

7.Don’t ignore the danger of suicide

Sometimes we think that bad couldn’t happen to us, but why risk ourselves, especially when it comes to the lives of our children. When we face adolescent depression, we cannot neglect the danger of suicide! The figures speak for themselves and presents a cruel reality of the 21st century. Almost 5,000 young people with ages 15 to 24 kill themselves every year, the number of suicides among young people is three times higher than in the 1960s.

In order to prevent teens’ attempts to suicide, it is essential to recognize the specific signs, because four out of five teenagers who try to put an end to their lives, give clear warning signs adults can recognize. These signs include a serious change in their personality or appearance, irrational behavior, serious change in school performance, obsession with death, direct or indirect suicide threats, changed eating habits or an overwhelming sense of guilt or shame.

If you notice any of these signs in your child, take it seriously and seek professional help. It helps to ask advice from a mental health professional who has experience with depressed teens and can guide you to protect your children against any danger. Nevertheless, talk to your children about suicide. Even though it is tempting to avoid any discussion about suicide when there are suspicions, silence can be deadly. Just speak frankly about all your concerns and help your child speak about all their fears and concerns. With proper help, your children can boost self-esteem and regain its appetite for life.

8.Take into consideration a medical approach of depression

Although it is preferable to avoid the use of drugs, especially when it comes to depression, in some cases, medications may be recommended along with different therapies, in order to effectively treat it. When medication is recommended by a specialist, we don’t have to worry. Using antidepressants under medical supervision is not dangerous as long as they are part of a therapy that will help our children to overcome the difficult hardships they have to go through. Medication helps reduce some symptoms of depression and is often prescribed along with interpersonal therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychotherapy.

Teenagers can fight depression and prevent suicide attempts if they receive proper help, from parents, friends, as well as from mental health professionals. As long as we pay attention to everything that happens to our children and to all the changes they are going through, we can help them to overcome any difficulty that may appear. Our children need all the support and love in the world. We can help our children become more confident about themselves, stronger and more optimistic just by offering our unconditional love.

Just as adults can easier overcome different problems if they are surrounded by caring and loving family and friends, teenagers need love to grow healthy and fight different problems that could seriously affect their lives, including depression.

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