When our children are very young, we do absolutely everything we can to keep them safe and healthy—often putting their needs before our own. As they get a little older, we have to start giving them more freedom and independence and the chance to develop their personality, sense of self-preservation, and skills. But, we’re still there to pick them up when they call, to clean their cuts, to kiss bumped knees, and to make it all better. We’re there when they have problems at school or when they are scared. We hold their hands when they are nervous, and we carry them when they are tired.
But, when those children become teenagers, things start to change. They want and need more independence, and we have to let them go. The things that hurt them also begin to change. They are less likely to fall and cut their knees but are far more likely to grow worried, anxious, or depressed.
Unfortunately, depression in teenagers is a serious problem. About 20% of teenagers experience depression before reaching adulthood, and a teenager commits suicide every 100 minutes. So, what can you do to help?
How Do You Know If Your Teenager Is Depressed?
First things first, you need to know the signs. Some things to watch out for include:
- Poor mood and irritability
- Lack of interest in school, hobbies, and friends
- A change in eating and sleeping habits
- Low energy and motivation
- Hopelessness, guilt, or feeling worthless
- Poor school performance
As a parent, your first response is to try to solve problems. You can’t solve this. You can only offer your support. Ask how they feel, show an interest in their thoughts and emotions, and let them know that you’ve noticed a change. Allow them to speak to you without being forceful.
Avoid Getting Emotional
Whether they open up or shut you down, don’t get emotional. If you seem too upset, they’ll feel guilty, and things will get worse.
Give Them Opportunities To Do Things, But Don’t Be Pushy
If your teen is depressed, they might have little interest in doing things. Trying to force them will only increase feelings of guilt and hopelessness. But you should give them opportunities. Say things like “I’m going to the store if you’d like to come” or “I’m going to walk the dog, you can come if you want” without pressure.
Gently Encourage Treatment
Ideally, you’ll want to find a doctor near me and make them an appointment to get help. However, your teen might be resistant to the idea of seeing someone. Let them know that you have found a doctor and that you think they might be able to help. Leave the door open, but don’t be pushy.
Highlight The Positives
Depressed teens will focus on the negatives. They won’t be able to see the positives in their life at all. So, make sure you do. Focus on the positives, praise them even for small things, and don’t mention negatives.
With teenage depression on the rise, parents must be aware of the signs and know what they can do to help. If you are worried, seek further advice and never ignore the symptoms.