Teen depression is a major mental health condition that results in a constant feeling of sadness and despair. It affects how the individual adolescent behaves, feels, and thinks. Puberty is a major life change, and the unique changes that it brings can put young people at risk of getting into a minor depressive episode.
If you have a young adult in your life, it can be easy to dismiss the changes in their behavior as “just being a teenager.” However, apparent behavior issues shouldn’t be ignored because they could be a sign that something more serious is going on with your adolescent. If your teen struggles with their mental health or shows signs of depression, the good news is that there’s hope. Keep reading as we explore different ways through which you can support and offer encouragement and compassion for your teen.
Once you start to notice a mood or behavior shift in your teen, ask them about it. To get more out of the conversation, choose a private and quiet location to have a chat. You could start by mentioning the changes that are making you worry. If your adolescent can open up after these questions, you may find some of their responses worrisome. Due to this, you may want to have them meet with a mental health expert immediately. However, talk to them first to better understand what’s really going on in their lives. Should they not be forthcoming the first time you ask, keep at it and remind them that you’re always willing to listen and understand.
Once they’re ready to talk, give them your undivided attention. Don’t interrupt or help them finish their sentences. It’ll also help if you let them speak at their own pace, no matter how slow the emotions or feelings come out. Listen to their words as they say them, without thinking of what to say in response. Once they’re done sharing, mirror back what you’ve heard to be sure that you’ve understood what they’ve just shared.
Find help together.
If your teenager has tried an outpatient program or partial hospitalization and still struggles with a mood disorder, substance abuse, or other difficult symptoms of depression, a higher level of care should be something to consider. Additionally, if your child is struggling with suicidal thoughts, or if their mental health professional—psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, counselor—have suggested that a higher level of care is needed, consider a residential treatment program.
Residential treatment programs for teenage depression offer individual treatment for a number of issues such as substance use disorder, mental health disorders, behavioral issues, bipolar disorder, low self-esteem, self-harm, and suicide ideation in a supportive environment. If your teen is struggling with any of these issues, residential treatment is an effective mental health care treatment due to the 24-hour care offered.
What’s more, residential treatment centers take on a holistic approach to treatment, and will offer treatment options that cater to both the mind, spirit, and body. Art therapy, experiential therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT, and trauma therapy are just some of the approaches that residential treatment centers use to offer your teen ongoing support.
Share in their interests.
Working with a therapist or counselor will help your teen develop coping skills for their mental illness. Should they stop seeing a professional regularly, these skills will help them manage their mood and stay emotionally healthy.
Taking an interest in their interests and joining in on them is another way to support your teen, and create avenues for open communication. For example, if it’s time for your teen to get their first new car, helping them find the right car by taking them to your local Subaru car dealership, for instance, can help bring you two closer.
Alternatively, if your teen enjoys long gaming sessions, for instance, try and learn what makes eSports such a meaningful activity to them. If you’ve never joined in on any of their games, consider trying their favorites. A good way to do this can be by asking them if there are any in-game beginner tutorials. Alternatively, find game summaries online to gain a basic understanding of how each game works. Reading online gaming product reviews is also a great way to immerse yourself in the world of PC games.
These reviews will also help you understand what accessories a basic gaming setup should have. They’ll also offer insights into the best gaming keyboard, best gaming mouse, or headsets needed to elevate the gaming experience. When practiced in moderation, gaming is a wonderful point of connection and can develop a shared interest between you and the adolescent in your life.
4. Encourage them to maintain supportive relationships.
Nurturing healthy friendships can help your adolescent stay connected to people who love them, even as they seek treatment. If you have strict rules around socializing, such as no sleepovers on weeknights or limited after-school activities, consider making some exceptions to these until you notice a change in their depressive symptoms. Additionally, encouraging them to volunteer at a local shelter or another organization may also help ease feelings of depression.