Depression and Teens:
Helping Your Son Cope with Depression
The following are strategies that you can use to help your son cope with depression:
- Let your son know that you are interested in how he is feeling and that you are available to talk. Just knowing that you care is helpful, even if he is not ready to talk to you at the moment.
- Encourage your teen to keep up with his daily activities, even for shorter periods of time. Help him to participate in activities that he enjoys and that help him relax. Staying busy and in touch with others whom he trusts is especially important.
- Sometimes depressed teens isolate themselves from their friends and family. Encourage your son to choose a few people; peers, family members, teachers, etc. to whom he can go for support and be in touch with at least one a day.
- Encourage your son to get some kind of exercise at least 3 to 4 times a week, as being active can help improve his mood. He should also be encouraged to keep to his usual sleep schedule and eat regular and healthy meals and snacks.
- Suggest that he keep a journal. Writing and drawing are some ways that teens like to express themselves. Sometimes he may be asked to do this by his therapist as well, and maybe share some of the entries. Often being able to identify and express feelings will improve how your teen feels.
- Brainstorm with your son about other strategies to cope with depression: What works for him?
What else do I need to know?
Depression in teenagers is more common than people realize, and most people who receive treatment for depression get better. Unfortunately, many people who are depressed don't get help for many reasons. Some people think that seeking treatment is a sign of weakness. Others are afraid to be seen as "crazy" for seeing a counselor or taking medication. Some parents don't recognize signs of depression in their teens, or sometimes they don't want to face it because they feel they are to blame, or that others will blame them. Some parents find it threatening to have another person (such as a therapist) so intimately involved in their family’s life. However, every parent needs objective guidance sometimes, and if your teen is depressed, it's wise to seek outside help. Mental health providers who work with teens and their families have expertise in this area and can significantly change lives for the better. Although finding the right help takes time and courage, it greatly improves your teen's chances of moving beyond the depression.
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