Help Your Teen Identify Their Feelings
OBrien works with kids of all ages to help them identify their feelings and figure what they need to do to feel better. Parents can do this too.
OBrien: If your child is feeling anxious, what do they need to do to feel calm? If theyre sad, what do they need to do to feel happy? The path to feeling calmer or happier may involve doing a puzzle to feel calm or watching a funny video to lighten a dark mood. It depends on the teen.
How To Deal With Teenage Depression
This article was co-authored by Trudi Griffin, LPC, MS. Trudi Griffin is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Wisconsin specializing in Addictions and Mental Health. She provides therapy to people who struggle with addictions, mental health, and trauma in community health settings and private practice. She received her MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marquette University in 2011.There are 23 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 53,212 times.
Dealing with depression as a teenager can be very frightening and confusing. You may think youre alone in your suffering, but there are many resources for help. Depression is a serious disorder, so dont overlook your symptoms. Although there are many things you can do on your own to improve your mood, it is important to see a doctor to treat depression effectively. In addition to getting treatment, you can try some strategies that may improve your mood as well as nurture your mind and body.
How I Survived Parenting A Teen With Depression
Parenting a teenager with depression has nearly broken me. It has cracked me open, so that I thought the pieces would never come back together. But, like the daisies and coneflowers that I hack down to the ground in preparation for spring, the places that are cut are the places where new shoots grow.
I didnt sign up for this. Hiding the knives. Locking up the household cleaners. Checking his room for anything sharp, for hidden meds he didnt take. Noticing new cuts on his arms. Wondering if I will find him dead in his room in the morning. Sitting with him in the doctors office waiting for the results of the drug tests.
Letting go of the expectations and hopes and dreams. While other parents share proud news about their kids accomplishments honors classes, sports achievements, a date to the prom I am happy the stealing seems to have stopped. That he can, very occasionally, laugh again.
It is a heartbreaking thing to know that your child does not want to live anymore. This sweet soul who used to sing and dance around the house, to canter like a horse around the yard, to lead the neighborhood kid gang in complex games with plastic swordsnow wants to die. Now he cuts himself just so that he will feel something. And nothing we do seems to help.
And it takes its toll. Living with a severely depressed person is like living with a black hole. When at its worst, everyone is sucked into the blackness. Nothing escapes. Nothing breaks through the darkness.
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Getting Help For Teenagers With Depression
Depression is unlikely to go away on its own, but teenagers with depression usually get better with treatment. This means that seeking early help for your child is the best thing you can do.
Seeking help also shows your child that you care. Talking to your child and seeing a health professional together sends the message that your child isnt alone. And most young people wont seek help themselves, so your child probably needs your help to get professional support.
If youve tried to talk to your child, but your child has refused help or said there was nothing wrong, you might need to seek help by yourself to start with.
There are many professionals and services you can go to for help with teenage depression:
- your local community health centre
- local mental health services.
If youre unsure, your GP will be able to guide you to the most appropriate services for your family.
Depression is no-ones fault, even if it seems to run in your family. Many factors influencing depression will be outside your control. But theres a lot you can do every day to foster your childs mental health and reduce your childs risk.
More Tips On How To Help A Teen With Depression
Being a mom is not easy. Being a single mom is even more challenging. Having children means you are on the job 24/7. Even while you are sleeping, you are still ready to wake at the slightest peep because that is what moms do.
Moms, especially single moms, need more people cheering them on. Your love and care matter to your kids. You are their superhero. I think single moms are superheroes, too.
The quotes below are words of encouragement for all of the single moms out there. Keep up the great work! Your hard work will pay off. Someday, they will be grown up and living on their own. Your job will never truly be done as a mom, but you can pat yourself on the back today and every day for doing mom duty day in and day out.
Here are 50 single mom quotes to encourage all the single moms out there.
What Causes Depression In Children And Teenagers
Usually, there is no one single cause of depression in children and teenagers. Sometimes depression appears out of the blue, while at other times something seems to trigger it. Often it is a combination of factors. Your child or teenager is more likely to experience depression if they:
- experience a stressful event such as the break-up of parents, loss of a loved one or relationship break-up
- have someone in the family who has depression, such as a parent or sibling
- have experienced trauma, such as a significant injury or accident, or abuse
- are going through major life changes, such as starting a new school or going to university
- have significant physical illnesses
- have a poor daily routine or are not involved in education, training or work
- have been bullied or had other problems with peers
- are LGBTI or feel different in some other way
- use alcohol or recreational drugs.
How To Have A Discussion With Your Teen About Mood
Teens are often reluctant to discuss difficult personal topics with their parents. When thinking about how to broach this topic with your teen, you should consider the following:
- Chose the right time. Know how to pick your opportunities. Do not try to engage them in this conversation immediately after an argument or disagreement, or when they are in the middle of a fun task.
- Stick to the facts. You cannot know what is going on inside your teens mind. Let them know specifically what behaviors you find concerning, and ask if they have noticed those behaviors as well.
- Validate. Let your teen know that you can see how hard things have been for them lately. Express that you care about them and their wellbeing.
- Self-disclose. If you have ever experienced depression or know someone who has, sharing this can be a really powerful tool in this conversation. Let them know what it was like for you, or what you know about how it was for the other person, and what helped.
- Be ready for push-back or not. Oftentimes parents are reluctant to have this conversation because they are so concerned that it will go poorly . But you might be surprised to find that you child is thankful to have someone notice and validate their experience.
Read Also: I Am Depressed And No One Cares
Parenting A Child With Depression
Parenting a depressed child can be very difficult. Here are suggestions for helping your child with depression.
Parenting is already a tough job. Parenting a child with depression is even tougher. Keep in mind that depression is a medical condition. Your child is not acting this way on purpose.
Here’s what you can do to help your child with depression:
Honor your child’s feelings. It is difficult to see your child sad and in pain. Your first response might be to try to cheer him or her up. Don’t. Trying to make depressed children and teens happy makes them feel like depression can be willed away. It is more helpful to listen. Acknowledge their feelings, and take them seriously.
Use encouraging statements rather than punishment. Instead of yelling, “Turn that television off! You haven’t done your homework yet!” say “When you finish your homework, you can watch television.”
If your child constantly forgets to take his or her lunch money to school, don’t say, “You are so forgetful! You can’t remember a simple thing like your lunch money!” Instead, say something that focuses on the behavior, not your child, like “I know it has been hard for you to remember your lunch money. What can we do to make sure it gets put in your book bag every morning?”
Focus on consequences rather than punishment. For example, if your child breaks a lamp during a temper tantrum, use a logical consequence rather than issuing an unrelated punishment .
New Research Is Revealing How To Protect Teens’ Mental Health During A Challenging Part Of Life
Parents are understandably worried about their teens. Last years spate of teen suicides in Palo Alto, coupled with high rates of teen depression, make parents wonder what they could be doing to better help their kids navigate the sometimes-treacherous waters of their adolescent years.
Fortunately, scientists who study teen depression have some preliminary advice. By looking at new findings in neuroscience, as well as other psychological research and longitudinal data, scientists are zeroing in on a better understanding of what impacts teen depression and how to prevent it. Here are some of the suggestions coming out of the science.
Tip : Support Your Teen Through Depression Treatment
As your depressed teenager goes through treatment, the most important thing you can do is to let them know that youre there to listen and offer support. Now more than ever, your teenager needs to know that theyre valued, accepted, and cared for.
Be understanding.Living with a depressed teenager can be difficult and draining. At times, you may experience exhaustion, rejection, despair, aggravation, or any other number of negative emotions. During this trying time, its important to remember that your child is not being difficult on purpose. Your teen is suffering, so do your best to be patient and understanding.
Stay involved in treatment. Make sure your teenager is following all treatment instructions, whether its attending therapy or correctly taking any prescribed medication. Track changes in your teens condition, and call the doctor if depression symptoms seem to be getting worse.
Be patient. The road to your depressed teenagers recovery may be bumpy, so be patient. Rejoice in small victories and prepare for the occasional setback. Most importantly, dont judge yourself or compare your family to others. As long as youre doing your best to get your teen the necessary help, youre doing your job.
Teenage Depression: Things To Try At Home
If your child is suffering from depression, there are important things you can do to help in your everyday family life.
Physical health and wellbeing
- Encourage your child to make healthy food and drink choices. Make sure you have a variety of healthy foods in the cupboard and fridge, and offer tasty and nutritious options at meals.
- Get your child to do some regular physical activity. Staying physically active can help to improve your childs mental health. It might be as simple as taking a 10-minute walk every day to start with.
- Encourage your child to get enough sleep. If your child is having trouble sleeping, try not to let them nap during the day regardless of how tired they feel. Help your child make time for relaxing activities before bedtime and encourage your child to avoid screen time in the hour before bed.
- If you can, make sure your child avoids alcohol and other drugs. Using these to dull sadness or pain can make your childs problems worse.
Relationships and feelings
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What Not To Do
Dont ask why he or she feels depressed. Children and teens who are depressed cant answer questions like, Why are you crying all the time? or What do you have to be sad about? Asking them only makes them feel worse, like they are supposed to control their depressed feelings when they cant.Dont tell your child to change how he or she feels. Depressed children and teens cannot just snap out of it. They cant help how they feel and they cant make it go away by willpower.Dont compare your past feelings to your childs depression. Its not helpful to say, Well, when I feel badly, I just pull myself up by my bootstraps, or When my childhood dog died, I just had to get over it.
How To Help A Teen With Depression
These ways of thinking create anxiety and stress in teens, so what can you as a parent do to help? You can start by paying attention to how you and your family handle failure and mistakes.
Research tells us convincingly that your own relationship with anxiety and uncertaintyâand how you role model this to your childâsignificantly impacts how she sees the world.
When is something good enough? How do you move on to your next task? What does your family say about screw-ups?
Now may be the time to notice and change your own response to mistakes, to sprinkle family conversation with phrases that normalize screw-ups, struggles, and imperfection.
Teens also need to hear that they arenât expected to know everything, and that they canât see into the future.
The goal is NOT to make all good decisions. The goal is to have the problem solving skills needed to adjust from the inevitable bad ones.
Flexibility is key, and this means knowing when to push harder and when to be satisfied with a less-than-perfect result. As you see your teen becoming anxious, look for opportunities to let her know that this IS a time of uncertainty, but you have confidence in her ability to problem solve along the way.
Giving advice about how you would handle things might not be as valuable as instilling a sense of autonomy in your teenâand this may mean backing off the lectures and letting her know that you are there to support her as she makes HER choices.
Also Check: Can I Overcome Depression Without Medication
Overcoming Teen Depression Tip : Talk To An Adult You Trust
Depression is not your fault, and you didnt do anything to cause it. However, you do have some control over feeling better. The first step is to ask for help.
Need to talk to someone?
Get affordable online counseling from BetterHelp or visit HelpGuides directory for free helplines and crisis resources. HelpGuide is reader supported. We may receive a commission if you sign up for BetterHelp through the provided link. Learn more.
Will This Ever Be Over
As kids progress through the teen years, you’ll notice a slowing of the highs and lows of adolescence. And, eventually, they’ll become independent, responsible, communicative young adults.
So remember the motto of many parents with teens: We’re going through this together, and we’ll come out of it together!
Read Also: Mental Hospital For Anxiety And Depression
How Is Depression Treated
The good news is that there is a range of effective treatments for depression it’s a treatable illness. Treatment usually focuses on psychological therapies and lifestyle changes. Antidepressants are not routinely used for children and young people but may be added in some cases if depression doesn’t respond to other treatments. Your GP will be able to talk through options and help work out which are best for your child or teenager. They may also refer them to a mental health specialist. Read more about mental health services for youth.
How To Communicate With A Depressed Teen
Focus on listening, not lecturing. Resist any urge to criticize or pass judgment once your teenager begins to talk. The important thing is that your child is communicating. Youll do the most good by simply letting your teen know that youre there for them, fully and unconditionally.
Be gentle but persistent. Dont give up if they shut you out at first. Talking about depression can be very tough for teens. Even if they want to, they may have a hard time expressing what theyre feeling. Be respectful of your childs comfort level while still emphasizing your concern and willingness to listen.
Acknowledge their feelings. Dont try to talk your teen out of depression, even if their feelings or concerns appear silly or irrational to you. Well-meaning attempts to explain why things arent that bad will just come across as if you dont take their emotions seriously. Simply acknowledging the pain and sadness they are experiencing can go a long way in making them feel understood and supported.
Trust your gut. If your teen claims nothing is wrong but has no explanation for what is causing the depressed behavior, you should trust your instincts. If your teen wont open up to you, consider turning to a trusted third party: a school counselor, favorite teacher, or a mental health professional. The important thing is to get them talking to someone.
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