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Finding out that your teenager is struggling with depression can feel like you were hit over the head by a ton a bricks. You feel confused, sad, and scared. A lot of parents feel unsure of what to do next or how to be supportive. Though this can feel like an overwhelming obstacle, there are things you can do to help.
1. Listen. Be open to hearing what your teen has to share with you. Validate their feelings. At times depression can make us feel or think in ways that appear irrational. Trying to tell your teen that things will be fine or they need to get over it can actually make them feel ignored and misunderstood instead of comforted. A lot of times our need to try to fix things as quickly as possible is actually based in our own anxiety. Take a deep breathe and try to be patient with your teen (and yourself).
2. Encourage your teen to engage with others. Depression can make teens feel isolated and disconnected. You might notice them withdrawing from friends or other activities they use to enjoy. If you see that happening, suggest other activities they can get involved in.
3. Prioritize health. Depression can cause people to either get too much or not enough sleep. Try to gently encourage regular sleep. In addition, physical activity is a great way to combat depression. Taking teens away from the screens and going outside for a walk can be really impactful. Yoga has been shown to be especially effective for helping teens who are struggling with depression as a way of being more mindful and integrated with their bodies.
4. Find professional help. You don’t have to do this alone! Therapists are licensed to treat depression and research has shown that depression is very treatable with the right treatment. We are all here to help and are passionate about providing support for teens who are struggling.
For more information or to make an appointment with one of our therapists visit our website at summitcounseling.org