Learning that your teen has a mood disorder can feel discouraging and it can be difficult to know what to do. There are ways that you can support your teen, however, to help them have a healthy and positive adolescence.
The first step towards helping a teen cope with a mood disorder is to educate yourself. Understanding is the key to combating stigma, which is possibly the biggest struggle your teen will have to face. So what is a mood disorder? A mood disorder is any depressive or bipolar mental health problem. While it’s not well known what causes them, factors such as chemical imbalances in the brain, environmental impacts, or traumatic incidents are some potential explanations. Remember that your teen is not defined by a mood disorder, but has a mood disorder. Education and understanding are key to supporting them.
Maintain Physical Well-Being
What we choose to do with our bodies often directly impacts our brain. As a result, it’s important to help your teen maintain physical well-being. Ensure they are getting ample exercise (20 minutes per day) and sleep (8 hours per night). In addition, steer them away from stimulants including caffeine, alcohol and drugs to help with manic and depressive episodes in particular.
Maintain Emotional Well-Being
Paying attention to both yours and your teen’s emotional well-being is also crucial to coping with a mood disorder. Learn to reduce stress particularly in your home environment and encourage open communication of both sharing and listening.
It’s also helpful to learn how to accept your teen’s limits and understand that their struggles are not simply solved by willpower. You can also learn to accept your own limits and that your teen’s recovery is ultimately in their hands.
When in doubt, remember to seek support. Neither you or your teen are alone and there are doctors, therapists, support groups and psychiatrists who are ready and willing to help.
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