Ever wonder how to help a depressed teenager? Teenagers can be challenging. They can have mood swings and can test the limits of the rules as well as the limits of your patience. Fortunately, most teenagers make it through their teenage years without major problems. Unfortunately, some teenagers experience significant depression which can put them at risk for suicide. Listed below are some ways you can help your teenager if they become depressed.
- Learn to recognize the signs of depression. – It is important to understand that depression is more than a temporary feeling of being down or unhappy. Depression tends to be all-consuming and can make even normal activities difficult to perform. Some of the signs to look for include:
- Depressed mood – Teenagers with depression feel down all the time. You may hear them say things like: “I am just not happy.”
- Feelings of hopelessness – Teens with depression often feel like things are hopeless, so “Why try?”
- Feelings of worthlessness – Teens with depression frequently feel like they have no value. They may also feel guilty for no apparent reason.
- Anger and agitation – Teens with depression may feel angry and irritable. They might become more argumentative and defiant as their depression grows.
- Sleep disturbance – Teenagers with depression struggle with their sleep. They may have difficulty sleeping or they may want to stay in bed all the time.
- Tearfulness – Teenagers with depression may become tearful for no apparent reason. When asked why they are crying, they often respond with something like: “I don’t know, I just feel sad.”
- Suicidal thoughts – The greater the depression, the more frequent and intense the thoughts of suicide tend to be. Unfortunately, because teens tend to be impulsive, they can be a greater risk for acting on these thoughts.
- Loss of interest in activities – Teens with depression tends to withdraw from other people, places, and things.
- Low energy – Teens with depression often feel tired, no matter how much rest they get.
- Empathize rather than criticize – Remember that depression is not a choice. Your teenager doesn’t want to be depressed. Show them some warmth and concern rather than criticizing them.
- Use active listening – Actively listen for the feelings that your teenager is expressing. Remember the goal is for your teenager to feel understood and supported.
- Encourage – Encourage your teen to keep trying. Help them understand that their feelings are driven by depression and that their depression can be treated.
- Give them hope – Remember that depression often brings feelings of hopelessness. Help your teen understand that their feelings are a symptom of their depression and that with help these feelings will diminish.
- Listen for signs of suicidal thoughts – Remember those suicidal thoughts are common symptoms of depression. Ask your teen if they are having thoughts of suicide or self-harm. If they are, get them help.
- Teach them coping skills – Your teen is still learning how to cope with the challenges of life. Teach them how to resolve conflicts, communicate effectively, and manage their stressors.
- Identify problems that may be contributing to the depression – Ask your teen about the stressors in their life. Are they getting bullied? Are they having trouble with relationships? Has there been trauma in their life? The more you know about the underlying problems in their life, the more that you can help them.
- Get them professional help – If the depression persists, get your teenager professional help. Remember that depression can be debilitating. Get them the help they need so that they can thrive.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.