How to help a teenager cope with depression? Tips for parents

Updated 2 years ago on April 08, 2023

Has your teenage child suddenly become nervous and irritable or, conversely, sad and thoughtful? What is it, a bad mood? Or is there something more serious behind the odd behavior?

Most adolescents usually quickly return to their normal state after the dramatic mood swings that are common at this age. However, those who experience sadness, feelings of doom, or increased nervousness for weeks or even months are more likely to be depressed.

The reasons for it can be very different - a change of familiar environment, a new school, parents' divorce, unrequited love, conflicts with teachers or peers, etc. Stress, rapidly changing hormones, and lack of sleep aggravate the problem. When depressed, adolescents are more at risk for rash behaviors and actions, as well as substance abuse, self-torture, and even suicide.

Depression often causes changes in behavior. Teenagers may avoid society, become easily excitable, and become withdrawn. Academic performance may also deteriorate and they may become indifferent to their studies, hobbies and pastimes.

Attentive parents may notice changes in their teenager's condition by how much he or she sleeps, his or her appetite or concentration. Self-esteem and self-confidence may also decrease when depressed.

The most important thing you can do in these situations is to recognize that something is going on with your son or daughter. It never hurts to seek help from a medical professional. A doctor is able to rule out possible health problems that may be causing depression, and will refer your child to a psychologist if necessary.

Depression is considered a disease of the brain. Fortunately, it is treatable. A steadily growing body of scientific evidence in this area supports the neurobiological aspect of depression. Genetic factors and social experiences can lead to changes in brain neurotransmitters, neuroplasticity and brain neural networks, and impaired hormonal regulation.

Psychotherapeutic conversations and, if necessary, medication are very effective for teenagers. They will feel much better if they begin to understand and manage their moods and feelings, learn to think positively and accept themselves without self-criticism or judgment. It is proved that early detection and treatment of depression can help to prevent or minimize its negative consequences.

Meanwhile, parents themselves can also help teens cope with depression.

1. be honest. Explain to your teenager that depression is a temporary condition and you can learn to manage it.

2. Show patience. Help your teen build self-esteem and be more patient with treatment if it becomes necessary.

3. Encourage good habits. Daily exercise (even walking), proper sleep, walks in the fresh air, and a healthy diet help resist depression.

4. Encourage openness. Give your teenager space to express his feelings without judgment. If you don't agree with his decisions or actions, tell him so.

5. Show family support. Make time for your teenager to spend time with close family members who support him, especially those who can cheer him up and lift his spirits.

6. Encourage active activities. Make it easy for your daughter or son to socialize and spend time with friends.

7. Talk about friendship. Remind your teenager that trustworthy friends will always be there for you, and that you shouldn't be friends with unreliable people. Remind them that relationship problems won't last forever.

It is very important that in a crisis situation parents keep calm and patient and support the teenager, who should not feel lonely and abandoned. As a rule, growing children judge you by your actions, not by your words, so it is necessary to show teenagers your own positive example, not to judge or deceive them, and to show unobtrusive care and attention to the problems they are having.

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