October 13th, 2021 Shield Bearer | Supporting Your Teen Who Battles Depression

Depression is more than a sad or irritable mood; it is an illness like diabetes or other physical ailments. It affects a teenager’s daily functioning and can negatively impact their school performance and relationships. Symptoms can include disruption of sleep patterns, changes in appetite, poor concentration, low energy, sad mood, loss of interest, feelings of guilt, and suicidal ideation. Teens may exhibit aggressive behavior, social isolation, a change in their peer group, and other out-of-the-ordinary behaviors. It is vital to initiate a conversation with your teen and to seek professional help.

Speak openly with your teens about mental illness and that it is a treatable disease and not a choice. Treatment helps, just like treating a broken bone or an infection. Most teenagers are familiar with the social stigma surrounding mental illness. It is essential to help them work through these common myths and correct the many inaccuracies about struggling with depression and other mental illnesses.

Encourage your teenager to engage with positive and supportive relationships. Community interaction can help both teens and adults who suffer through the darkness of depression. Those battling depression often naturally move toward isolation and withdrawal from social interaction. Parents can help by fostering opportunities for engagement.

Educating your teen about depression can be a crucial component to helping them achieve recovery. It is natural to resist what we don’t understand or what frightens us, but it is essential to know that treatment for depression is available and works. Therapy teaches life coping skills and can often help individuals achieve full recovery without lifelong medication.

When speaking with your teens, listen more than you talk. It is paramount to hear what they have to say, even when it may be hard to hear. Use your body language to show you are paying attention to them and work to show them you understand and are not judging their feelings or the way they are expressing themselves. Occasionally summarize your teen’s concerns and ask them questions to clarify their feelings.

A teen is more likely to follow through with a treatment plan if they have a hand in developing it. A good therapist will assist in this process and help you foster this relationship with your child.

As a parent, you are your teenager’s confidant. Be open with your teen and let them know you are there for them no matter what. Be the safe place for them to go when they are having a difficult time or at the end of a challenging day.

Shield-Bearer is here to support you and your teens if you need us: 281-894-7222