Teen Depression: What Can Parents Do to Help?
Parenting a teen who is dealing with depression can leave parents feeling helpless and sad themselves. Navigating the line between normal angst that every teen experiences and a more intense episode of depression is not easy, but your teen is counting on you to keep providing the love and guidance they need to get back on track. Here are some practical tips and ideas to help:
Create social connections
Connecting with peers is perhaps the best way to slowly re-build motivation and an appetite to engage in life. Talk about your teen’s interests, and help them meet and connect with other like-minded kids. Plan activities like inviting friends over for pizza or signing up as a volunteer in your community.
Make physical health a priority for the whole family.
Stock your pantry and refrigerator with healthy snacks. Try to provide meals that are balanced and filling so teens aren’t reaching for junk food that actually work against your energy level.
Go back to the basic, limiting screen time, and shoot for at least an hour of exercise every day. Encourage joining sports, dance, or theater activities, or start with a simple hike or walk. Sticking to bedtime rules and routines. Research shows teens are at their best when they get 9-10 of sleep.
Get Help. Together.
When these strategies just aren’t enough to break out of an episode, meet with a mental health professional, together. Discuss treatment options, together. Speak openly and calmly and remember to listen to your teen’s own thoughts.
Champion Your Teen
Muster everything you’ve got to bring patience and understanding to your relationship. As frustrating as it can be to love a teen with depression, your job is to stay closely involved, help your teen understand therapies, take note of changes, and foster open communication with doctors, family, friends.
Prioritize (Your Own) Self Care
Focus on staying healthy and positive as you work to help your teen. Enlist the help of family and friends or talk to a therapist. Your own support system is extremely important because you also need to parse out your own feelings and priorities.
UpStreet is a mental wellness program that offers free drop-in consultations with therapists, scheduled therapy appointments, text-based peer support, and support groups for teens ages 12-22. UpStreet aims to reduce the stigma of seeking mental health support, to avoid escalation of symptoms to a crisis stage, and enhance teens’ quality of life. Reach out to an UpStreet team member now using the chat bot located at the bottom of the page.