Depression and Teens:
Coping with Depression
Strategies that may help your teen cope with depression:
- Let your teen know that you are interested in how she is feeling and that you are available to talk. Just knowing that you care is helpful, even if she is not ready to talk to you at the moment.
- Encourage your teen to keep up with her daily activities, even if it is for shorter periods of time. Help her to participate in activities that she enjoys and that help her relax. Staying busy and in touch with others whom she trusts is especially important.
- Sometimes depressed teens isolate themselves from their friends and family Encourage your teen to choose a few people: peers, family members, teachers, etc. to whom she can go for support and be in touch with at least one a day.
- Encourage your teen to get some kind of exercise at least 3 to 4 times a week, as being active can help improve mood. She should also be encouraged to keep to her usual sleep schedule and eat regular and healthy meals and snacks.
- Suggest that your teen keep a journal. Writing about her feelings, drawing, and writing poetry are some ways that teens like to express themselves. Sometimes she may be asked to do this by her therapist as well, and maybe share some of the entries. Often being able to identify and express feelings will improve how your teen feels.
- Brainstorm with your teen about other strategies to cope with depression: What works for her?
What else do I need to know?
Depression in teenagers is more common than people realize and most people who receive treatment for depression get better. Unfortunately, many people who are depressed don't get help, for many reasons. Some people think that seeking treatment is a sign of weakness. Others are afraid to be seen as "crazy" for seeing a counselor or taking medication. Some parents do not recognize signs of depression in their teens, or sometimes they do not want to face it because they feel they are to blame or that others will blame them. Some parents find it threatening to have another person so intimately involved in their family’s life. However, every parent needs objective guidance sometimes, and if your teen is depressed, it is wise to seek outside help. Mental health providers who work with teens and their families develop expertise in just this area and can significantly change lives for the better. Although finding the right help takes time and courage, it greatly improves your teen's chances of moving beyond the depression.
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