Living with and Helping a Depressed Teenager
Posted: Ralph Stricker
Mention the idea of depressed teenagers and chances are most people will respond with just a shrug. The reason is that the topic in its own right verges on the cliché, considering the way in which teens are usually unpredictable and hormonal as standard. Nonetheless, there is a big difference between a “traditional” moody teen and one with a case of depression.
In the case of the latter, it’s perfectly possible for a parent to play a proactive role in both identifying and helping resolve their children’s issues. There is always the option of paying a visit to a counsellor, but this will only become possible after the issue has been identified and brought out into the open. Needless to day, this could be easier said than done in the instance of a teenager who might not exactly be inclined to talk openly about their emotions. It is certainly possible, but it’s a good idea to have a better understanding of what you’re dealing with and what you’re looking for, before getting started.
Here is a short overview of a few tips from the experts on how to identify and address depression in teenagers:
Take Note Of Changes
First and foremost, it’s important to notice any behavioural changes which might not might not be immediately visible. There will always be cases where depression in teens prompts a sudden and drastic change in behaviour, which is mostly impossible to ignore. In other cases however, it might be a case of a much more gradual and slower change. It can be that the teen in question is more irritable than usual, they might have become closed off or they might have problems with concentration. In all such cases, there can be a large variety of causes or it can turn out to be really nothing of concern at all. In any instance, it’s still worth investigating if you’re in any way concerned.
Habits and Lifestyle
It is also perfectly possible that in a case where radical changes in a teenager’s habits or lifestyle are observed, depression could be the cause. Examples of such changes include socialising with an undesirable crowd or avoiding social situations completely, falling into drug or drinking habits that will easily prompt you to seek alcohol rehab advice in Kent or leading the kind of sedentary and dead-end lifestyle that is clearly harmful for a number of reasons. Once again, this is not to say that when habits and lifestyle change depression is always to blame. Nonetheless, whatever it is that had provoked the change is worth investigating.
There is no disputing the fact that communicating with teens can be challenging at the best of times. In cases where a teen is going through a problematic emotional phase, it could be even more difficult to reach them. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to make sure that efforts are made to keep all lines of communication open at all times and to encourage teenagers to speak openly. It is a case of making it crystal clear that no topic is out of bounds, while maintaining a friendly attitude and letting them know they have complete freedom of speech at all times.
Make the Move
If it’s clear that there’s a problem your teenager just doesn’t seem willing or able to talk about, it’s always worth taking the first step yourself. It’s a good idea to have some specific basis for your observation – a thing about their attitude that has changed, their habits are concerning you, the fact that they appear to have completely shut down and so on. It is not a case of making accusations, interrogating them or putting them on the spot, but rather giving them the opportunity to discuss their feelings openly.
Last up, one of the biggest mistakes many parents make is falling into the assumption that all teenagers come across as depressed from time to time and as such it’s all perfectly normal. If a teenager is battling depression, to tell them it’s all in their head, a cry for attention or a temporary hormonal issue is to make the problem significantly worse. All you will be doing is telling them that you have no idea what they are going through and seem not to particularly care. If there’s any indication they might be struggling with depression, it’s in the best interests of everyone to talk about it openly and seek professional help if necessary.
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