10 Ways to Help Your Teenager Struggling With Depression

The teenage years are problematic for everybody, and practically no one escapes this period of puberty completely scratch-free. That said, the youth of today have it more difficult than ever before, as they attempt to determine their identities in a pool of hormones disrupted by a constant onslaught of information, from social media to sensationalist news headlines, all delivered straight to a device in their hands.

Modern day parents need to be extra observant, maintaining a fervent lookout for any peculiar shifts in their loved one’s behavior, and then approaching the topic respectfully. Find the best ways to help your teenager navigate the mental, emotional, and behavioral rollercoaster with these 10 suggestions:

1. Communicate Correctly

If you suspect your teenager is suffering from depression, keep in mind that it’s probably very challenging for them to talk to you about it. Try to initiate the conversation casually, like in the car or in front of the television, and ensure you listen more than you talk. Do not preach or pretend to understand their troubles, rather acknowledge them, and emphasize that you are there whenever they need you. Even if they insist nothing is wrong, trust your instincts, chat often, and let them warm up at their own pace.

2. Encourage Socializing

Keep a keen eye on isolation, and dedicate some time to focus on your child without it being a depression conversation. Urge them to go out or invite their friends over, and get the whole family involved in more social activities. Finally, pay attention to their interests and talents, suggesting events or classes they could attend based on these pastimes.

3. Entertaining Exercise

As everyone knows, physical movement leads to a happier mindset, so once again, concentrate on their interests and look out for any exercise-related sparks. Fun examples include , skateboarding, paintballing, dog walking, Wii fitness games, or any sport related ideas. Perhaps you could even challenge them to a match of something?

4. A Balanced Diet

Junk foods and sugars will shoot moods high into the sky before rapidly crashing down, so do what you can to provide your children with plenty of healthy fats, proteins, and fresh vegetables/fruit. Push for them to eat breakfast, consider packing their lunches, purchase them a reusable water bottle to carry around, and collaborate on home-cooked meals whenever possible.

5. Ample Sleep

Are your teenagers going to bed too late? Are they sleeping all weekend? This can contribute to depression and other behavior changes. Advocate the recommended 9-10 nightly hours for teens, as this will be rewarded with more energy and productivity.

6. Social Media Concerns

While you’ll undoubtedly run into some fierce defiance, try to find ways which limit your kid’s connection time. The lack of physical movement and false sense of socializing have been a hot health debate for quite some time, so experiment with banning phones during meals or offer other activities to distract them. On that note, also pay attention to their online posts, looking out for any worrying irregularities or warning flags.

7. Drugs/Alcohol Concerns
Teenagers run a high risk of turning to drugs and alcohol to escape reality for some temporary relief, but this generally aggravates symptoms. Be wary of suspicious behavior or friends, and let them know that they can speak to you about this topic without getting into trouble. If they are definitely involved with this scene, speak to a professional for guidance and look towards getting treatment.

8. Counseling Considerations
Speaking of professional help, always involve your children in the process, otherwise, they won’t be open to the guidance. Discuss all possibilities with them, let them think about it, and respect any resistance. If your child agrees, engage in regular conversations about the chosen counselor following, and if they aren’t happy, move onto another on. If your child disagrees, keep the discussion rolling, and perhaps start with some popular self-help books instead.

9. Medication Concerns
Some professionals may suggest antidepressants, and in certain cases, this could be worth looking into. But any medication (and its side effects) should be thoroughly researched and treated as a last resort for a developing mind. If you do decide to go down this route, however, monitor your child’s behavior very vigilantly and update the medical experts regularly.

10. Looking After Yourself
Sometimes you can get so wrapped up in your teen’s needs that you forget you have your own. Just remember that a happier you, leads to a happier household, leads to a happier family, and you can’t support anyone if you’re crumbling under the stress too. Try going through the above points again, applying them to your own life, and then fixing up the strongest weapon you have in this battle. Yourself.

 

Image courtesy of [nenetus] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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