Teens struggle with a myriad of feelings, and parents might not know how to tell the difference between the blues and teen depression. However, situational depression, precipitated by a specific event, is temporary, while long-term depression is more serious and happens for numerous reasons. In addition to overall sadness, withdrawal and feelings of despair, clinical depression might include psychosis, hallucinations and delusions. However, you can work with your teen to help him or her overcome their depression.
An Overview of Teen Depression
Teens can take proactive steps to move forward through their depression. By talking with you or with another trusted adult, they are reaching out and showing that they want help. As parents, remember to keep the lines of communication open so that they will feel comfortable opening up to you. Nagging and reacting in anger will prove to be counterproductive. Appeal to their hearts — reach out to them on an emotional level, reassuring them of your unconditional acceptance and love. Promise to work together with them to help them with their struggles.
Signs of Teen Depression
Although this list is not exhaustive, chronic teen depression includes various warning signs as follows:
Negative emotions, such as sadness, frustration and anger
Lack of enjoyment in life
Sleeping too little or too much
Crying at the drop of a hat
Unexplained weight loss or gain
Feelings of hopelessness
Physical problems with no other explanations and
Thoughts of death or even suicide.
If your teen shows any indication of suicide, seek immediate help from suicide.org or 1-800-273-TALK.
Proactive Steps to Combat Teen Depression
Encourage your teen to do the following:
Spend time with others, even if it’s just going out for coffee or for a walk. Connect with encouraging friends who are positive, sympathetic and upbeat. Isolation worsens the feelings of depression.
Reduce time playing games or on social media. Instead, engage in person with others.
Take the time to do what you enjoy, such as arts, music, after-school groups, youth group or sports. Not only can he or she rediscover their love of these activities, but they might even meet new friends.
Exercise and stay physically fit. Physical movement doesn’t need to be strenuous to be effective. Even a walk for 20 minutes a day can boost endorphins and help your teen’s mood.
Eat right. Too much sugar will cause a crash later. Instead, encourage your child to eat fruits, vegetables, complex carbs and proteins.
Volunteer. Helping others lets your teen focus on someone else instead of on their own problems.
Get the proper amount of sleep. Professionals tell us that teens need from eight to 10 hours of sleep per night.
However, many teens do not get enough rest, partly because their sleep patterns differ from those of adults.
Seek professional counseling. In some cases, the listed practical steps don’t help your son or daughter. Don’t delay in seeking professional guidance if needed.
Teens admittedly deal with complex situations that might trigger chronic depression. However, they can conquer these struggles by taking practical steps to help them. Your guidance as a parent serves as an important part of the road to recovery.