The number of teens struggling with depression is on the increase. While being moody and depressed is all part of being a teen if it’s affecting the way they function on a daily basis you should be concerned. Knowing what to do to support and comfort them isn’t easy, especially if you’ve never been depressed yourself. There are a number of things you can do if you suspect your teen is depressed.
- Learn about depression
This is especially important if you’ve never experienced depression yourself. Understand the symptoms you need to look out for and where you can go for help if you need it. The internet is an excellent tool for finding out about mental illness, and you’ll find plenty of tips and guidance.
- Talk to them
It’s important to talk to your teen about the way they’re feeling, but you can’t force them to talk if they don’t want to. What you can do is let them know you’re there for them when they’re ready to talk about whatever it is that’s bothering them, and not just their depression.
- Empathize with them
This might be difficult if you’ve never been depressed yourself and you might be struggling to understand what it is they’ve got to feel so bad about. Try to think back to when you were a teen and how you felt about yourself and the world around you. Work on understanding their feelings, and it’ll help you better understand them.
- Realize you can’t fix their problems
You might want to fix whatever it is that’s bothering them, but it’s not very realistic. It’s far better for you to help them learn how to cope with things themselves and find ways to solve their own problems. The skills they learn when they are in their teens are essential for their adulthood.
- Monitor their symptoms
There are symptoms you can look out for that will indicate your teen may struggling with depression. These include changes in eating habits, feelings of guilt, loss of interest in things they would usually enjoy doing, excluding themselves from social situations, partaking in risky behavior or drug taking, suicidal attempts, difficulty concentrating and sleeping.
- Know when to seek professional help
If you recognize any of the symptoms mentioned previously, it’s important for you to seek professional help. There’s plenty available, and together with your support, it can be pivotal in their recovery. Therapy, a stay in a teen treatment center, medication, and talk therapy are just a few examples of the help that’s available.
- Be respectful of their wishes
Don’t be surprised if all your teen wants to do is stay in bed all day with the drapes closed. There are times when you can be respectful of their wishes and let them take things easy for a while. If their symptoms persist for longer than a week or they’re getting worse, it’s time for you to step in and encourage them to do something different.
Being there for your teen is the most important thing you can do. Listen when they’re ready to talk to you about their feelings and don’t be judgmental. Provide them with a safe and comfortable home and a loving family around them, and they’ll be better able to weather the storm.