Teen Depression: How Parents Can Offer Support
Teenage depression showcases itself in more ways than one and it’s easy for parents to misjudge it as normal mood swings.
However, if your child shows alarming signs like persistent bad mood, changes in appetite, decline in school performance, social isolation, changes in sleeping pattern, pains and aches with no underlying cause, etc., lasting for more than two weeks.
In that case, there is a possibility that your child might be suffering from depression and needs your attention.
As we know that parents’ support can do wonders in treating teenage depression, let’s discuss a few ways in which you can help and offer support to your child.
1. Communication is the Key :
Making your child open up about their problems is an uphill task when depression kicks in.
But, here the key is to respect your child’s boundaries and still show your concern and openness to communication. Your focus must be on listening and not judging or lecturing. It is important that your child feels heard.
Instead of reasoning out their concerns or talking them out of depression, acknowledging their emotions and pain will make them trust you more and communicate freely.
In certain cases, a counselor, or any trusted person can also help where there is a trust deficit between parents and the child.
2. Encourage Your Teen to Reconnect With Friends and Activities :
Social withdrawal and lack of interest in activities that your child used to enjoy earlier is one of the most common signs of teenage depression.
To prevent isolation and making depression worse, you must make deliberate efforts to make your child meet other people.
You can call their friends at your place or encourage your child to go out and meet people.
Sports and art forms, be it dance, music or painting will help your child to reconnect with his social circle.
Focusing on your child’s interests and talents will help to build self-esteem, and eventually, you will find them enjoying their favourite activities again.
3. Shift Focus to Physical Health :
The right nutrition, sunlight, deep sleep, and doing any form of physical activity can do wonders when it comes to fighting depression.
Make physical activities fun by adding dance routines, playing the sport, or jogging with a pet. Also, ensure that your child is not Vitamin D deficient as deficiency of this vitamin can cause mood changes.
You can add a cup of chamomile tea for better sleep.
Studies have shown how social media and sensational news have a negative impact on one’s nervous system; therefore, it is better to limit or eliminate your child’s screen usage. Also, adding yoga and meditation can help calm the mind.
Adding simple breathing exercises to your child’s daily routine will again calm the nervous system and bring more oxygen to the brain, thereby making your child feel more relaxed.
You must ensure that your child doesn’t fall into the trap of substance abuse as this will worsen depression symptoms.
4. Seek Professional Help :
If you feel that your support and lifestyle changes are not helping your child’s depression, it is always a good idea to seek professional help.
Make sure that your child’s involvement in the process of selecting the treatment and feels comfortable with his therapist. In most cases, counseling or talk therapy works perfectly.
In case, your child doesn’t show positive changes, medication or antidepressants may be prescribed.
However, these medications come with their own set of risks and can even make depression worse, especially during the first two months of treatment.
5. Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself :
Parenting a depressed child can be taxing for your own physical and mental health. Therefore, having a strong support system to fall back on is just as important.
Whenever you feel overwhelmed, sad, or helpless, you must acknowledge these emotions and find a way to release them through journaling, talking to a friend, crying, etc.
Your physical health should not be ignored either. Having balanced meals, sound sleep, physical activity is just as important for you as for your child.
You must remember that when you are in a state of good health, only then can you help others.