The life of a teenager can be hard to understand, especially when you’re a parent looking in from the outside. Teens can become very stressed from school, sports, extracurricular activities, and social and familial expectations. But depression is different than stress—it is long-lasting and much more intense than stress. What’s more, depression is much more prevalent in teens than many people would expect, and unlike adults who are more aware of available resources, teens rely on family and friends to help them through these tough times. If you notice that your teen is suffering from depression, here is how you can support them moving forward.
Encourage them to talk
Encourage your teen to talk to you about their depression or anything that may be bothering them. Your teen may not want to talk about how they are feeling, but let them know you are there if they need you—chances are they will come to you eventually.
Let your teen know you and your family are there to support them no matter what. This may begin with simple gestures such as asking them how their day was, offering to help them with a tough school assignment or driving them to soccer practice.
Validate their feelings
If your teen opens up to you, don’t dismiss their depression or anxiety. Let them know what they are feeling is normal and there are ways to make it better. Suggest looking at treatment programs or local counselling groups they can attend, but keep the pressure off. They need to make the steps in their own time.
Encourage them to be social
A symptom of depression and anxiety is isolation and deterioration of relationships. Encourage your teen to hang out with their friends. It will boost their mood and improve their support system.
Do things together
Invite your teen to go on outings with you and your family. It doesn’t matter if it’s a short stroll or a weekend away; more time spent together will improve relationships and get them out of the house.
Ask a doctor
Talk to your doctor about your teen’s depression/anxiety if you are concerned. They will likely have solutions, including family counselling to help you cope with the situation.
Suffering from depression can be a frightening and isolating experience. Above all else, make sure that your teen feels valued, accepted, and loved as they attempt to get treatment and support.
Featured image Dan McCullough