Featured in Pre-Teens & Teens
Depression in pre-teens and teens is not just bad moods and intermittent melancholy, but instead it is a serious problem that ends up impacting every single aspect of the adolescent’s life. Depression can lead to alcohol and drug abuse, self-mutilation, self-loathing, violence, pregnancy and possibly even suicide. As a parent, there are many things you can do to help your depressed teen get through this difficult time in his or her life.
Methods of Discipline
Depression in teens is very tough on parents. While parents may feel unable to help their teens and pre-teens, there are things parents can do to help their children overcome depression.
1. Take your teen to see his or her family doctor to rule out any medical reason for the depression. There are some illnesses and medications that can cause a teen to feel depressed, so it is a good start to rule these out. The sooner you rule out any illnesses you will feel better knowing that your child is physically healthy.
2. Seek out a professional who specializes in depression. Parents often delay seeking out professional help as they try to help the teen themselves, however, depression is a very serious issue that usually requires some type of counseling. Choose a mental health professional who has obtained advanced training in both depression and treating adolescents.
3. Validate your teen’s feelings. Do not discount their feelings by saying that everything is fine, keep your chin up etc. When dealing with a depressed teen, things are not fine in their world and some words on reassurance will not be enough to make them feel better. As a parent, listen to what your teen is saying and validate what they are saying to you.
4. Encourage your teen to engage in social activity and physical activity. Exercise and socializing with friends have been proven to aid in depression. Suggest that your teen join a favorite sport or get involved in another activity that interests him or her. Also, playing with pets or taking the dog for a walk are other ideas that can help with depression.
5. Offer support to your depressed teen and listen to what they are saying without lecturing. Let your teen know you are there for him or her but don’t ask too many questions. Teens might resist communicating if questions are constantly been thrown at them. Be supportive of what is happening with your teen and be sure not to patronize or lecture them.
Helping Your Child Cope
In order to help your teen or pre-teen cope with depression, learn about depression. Be your own “expert” so to speak so you can have a better understanding of what he or she is going through. The more you know about the mental illness, the better equipped you will be to help your teen deal with depression. Also, be sure to stay involved in your teen’s treatment. Do not just find a mental health professional and transport them to and from their appointments. Instead, stay involved by making sure your child takes any medications that are prescribed and track changes in your child’s condition. Contact the therapist if you notice anything that he or she should be aware of. Be open with the immediate family about what is happening to your teen. The other children in your family will know that something is up and by hiding it, you can make your teen feel ashamed or worse about him or herself. In saying that, keep an eye on the other children as well. You want to make sure that everyone in the family is healthy.