If you have a teenager in your home, you’re no stranger to the turbulence of teen emotions. As your child goes through their last years of being a teen before heading off to college, they face a school a whirlwind of change, growth, and self-discovery, often accompanied by mood swings and a struggle to make sense of their feelings. However, for some teenagers, this journey can be shadowed by a more concerning issue – depression. If you’re uncertain whether your teen is struggling with their mental health or simply navigating the ups and downs of growing up, you’re not alone. Here are some tips and information on how to help a depressed teenager, brought to you by the experts at Ampelis Health.
Depression in Teens vs. Adults: Is There a Difference?
Depression can affect anyone, whether they’re 18 or 38. Though most symptoms are consistent regardless of age, it’s important to understand the differences between depression in teenagers and adults to ensure that you’re providing your teen with the right support and resources. Adolescents often experience depression differently; while adults might express their sadness and despair openly, teenagers often mask their feelings and instead exhibit irritability, anger, or risky behaviors that don’t hint at depression at first glance. Teens also tend to isolate themselves from their families, preferring to spend time with their close friends rather than confide in their parents. This can make it especially challenging to identify depression if you don’t know what signs to look for.
Signs of Depression in Teens
Most teens go through normal bouts of moodiness, which can make it difficult to distinguish between typical angsty teen behavior and signs of depression. This makes it all the more important for parents to pay attention to persistent changes in behavior, mood, or physical health that may be a sign of a more serious condition. Some common signs of depression in teens can include:
- Excessive anger or irritability
- A sudden drop in grades
- Social isolation
- Disinterest in hobbies
- Difficulty concentrating
- Obsession with failure and criticism
- Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
- Significant weight changes
- Physical symptoms such as frequent stomach aches and headaches
- Constant fatigue
- Low self-esteem
- Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
If you notice any of these signs lasting for an extended period, it may be time to acknowledge that your teen is in need of help.
Tips on How to Help
The question of how to help a depressed teenager requires patience and understanding. While you can’t force your teen into wanting to get better, you can provide them with support on their journey in navigating their high school years with depression. Here are a few ways you can help:
Communicate and Listen
The most important thing you can provide your teen with during this confusing time is your love and empathy. Create a safe, non-judgmental environment for them to express their feelings without fear of repercussions. Just them know you’re there to listen without offering immediate solutions.
Create Routine and Structure
Amidst the chaos of living with the ups and downs of depression, creating a routine can work wonders to provide your teen with structure and stability in their day-to-day life. Sit down with them to help establish a schedule that makes time for regular sleep, balanced meals, social activities, and study sessions.
Prioritize a Healthy Lifestyle
Physical health and mental health go hand in hand. Though your teen may drag their feet when it comes to healthy habits, especially if they’re struggling with depression, it’s essential to make sure they’re taking care of themselves. Gently encourage regular exercise – even a short walk or a fun, low-pressure sport can be a game changer. A balanced diet is crucial, too; this doesn’t mean fancy superfoods, but rather ensuring they’re getting a good mix of nutrients each day. And don’t forget to make sure that they’re getting enough sleep! These small changes can make a significant impact on their journey to feeling better.
Encourage Social Connections
When it comes to your teen’s well-being, the support of loved ones is essential. Though they may try to withdraw, remember that isolation only worsens depressive symptoms. If your teen is distancing themselves, gently remind them of all the people who care about them and encourage them to go out with friends, spend time with family, and engage in activities and hobbies that keep them connected with a strong support system.
Monitor Social Media Use
We live in the digital age, so it’s safe to assume that your teenager probably keeps their phone close at hand around the clock. While internet use itself isn’t necessarily unhealthy, it’s important to keep an eye on your teen’s online activities if you suspect they might be struggling with their mental health. Cyberbullying, excessive social media use, and isolation from connecting to people in person can drastically worsen depressive symptoms.
Take Care of Yourself
Caring for a depressed teen can be emotionally taxing. Just remember that self-care isn’t a luxury; keeping yourself healthy and stable is a necessity to support your family! Ensure you take time to relax and seek support for yourself.
Seek Professional Help
If you’re struggling with how to help a depressed teenager, don’t be afraid to encourage your teen to seek professional help. For many who struggle with their mental health, meeting with a provider who understands their condition is a vital step in their journey to manage and overcome depression. Going to a psychiatric or mental wellness clinic means that your teen can benefit from the effects of medication management or even specialized treatments such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), offering a new avenue of hope and healing to help effectively manage their depressive symptoms.
How Ampelis Health Can Help
Depression is a heavy burden to carry, especially when it affects teenagers who are still navigating the tumultuous waters of their last years of high school. At Ampelis Health, we understand the unique challenges that teens face when dealing with depression. Our evidence-based mental health education program and breakthrough use of state-of-the-art treatments such as TMS and medication management aim to provide comprehensive care to each of our patients.
We’re here to lend a hand in the journey toward a meaningful life, offering expert advice, individualized treatment plans, and learning materials to ensure your teen receives the support necessary to overcome depression and embrace a brighter future. Help your teen take the next step in their mental health journey by calling Ampelis today!