How to Help a Teen With Depression


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As a parent, guardian or mentor, helping a depressed teen in your care can be a major undertaking. Supporting someone with depression requires empathy, understanding and continuous proactive involvement. If you are actively trying to learn how to help a teen with depression, you are already on the right track. By gaining a better understanding of the ways you can help, you can have a major positive impact on the teen with depression in your life.

How you can help a teen with depression

  • Look for warnings — Early intervention can be highly beneficial in treating depression. If you are concerned about a teen in your care, look for key warning signs of depression. Common depression symptoms include persistent low moods, lack of motivation, social withdrawal and a lack of focus. Not everyone experiences the same symptoms. Your teen may only show outward signs of one or two depression symptoms. This does not mean their condition is necessarily less serious. Teens often conceal depression symptoms from family members and others close to them. By identifying the signs of depression before they become severe, you can help your teen avoid worsening symptoms.
  • Actively listen — Effective communication is paramount. By establishing open communication with your teen, you can lay the foundation for continuous support. Maintaining an open dialogue with your teen requires a few skills. Among the most important of these is active listening. Active listening means providing your full attention when your teen is sharing how they feel. It is important to clearly show that you understand and value their feelings. Another skill that goes along with active listening is learning to create a safe space. To encourage open communication, try to make the setting of your conversations private as well as comfortable. Foster an environment where your teen can feel safe expressing themselves without fear of judgment. These simple skills can go a long way in building trust and communication with your teen.
  • Educate yourself — If you want to offer informed support, it is important to educate yourself. If your teen has a particular diagnosis, try researching that condition. Learning more about your teen’s mental health disorder can help you gain a greater understanding of what they experience and how you should talk about it. Understanding your teen’s condition can also help you find available treatment options.
  • Encourage professional help — While your support can be invaluable for your teen, it may not be enough. When it comes to addressing mental health disorders like depression, professional intervention can help ensure that your teen gets the help they need. When broaching the subject with your teen, try to make it clear that seeking professional help is a positive step toward recovery. Choosing a professional treatment option can feel like a big undertaking; try offering guidance to your teen each step of the way. Help them research their options and connect with providers that match their needs. When your teen starts receiving professional treatment, it is important to support them in scheduling and attending appointments. Offer transportation and keep your schedule open when you can. Helping your teen stick with their treatment plan can have a major impact on the outcome.
  • Facilitate routines — Establish healthy daily routines. A good sense of structure can be highly beneficial for someone with depression. By facilitating and encouraging a stable routine, you can help your teen build better habits. Consistent sleep is an essential part of a good routine. Depression often disrupts sleeping schedules — some people with depression experience insomnia while others may sleep through the day. By encouraging a consistent sleeping routine, you can help your teen address sleeping issues caused by depression.
  • Be patient — Every person has a different recovery journey. As you work to help your teen improve, try not to force your expectations onto them. Pressuring your teen to recover faster can cause stress and anxiety, leading to the opposite of the desired result. Try to stay patient and empathetic each step of the way. This can help your teen feel supported as they continue to make progress.

Find new ways to help your teen with depression at Lightfully

At Lightfully Behavioral Health, we know that having the right support for you and your depressed teen is vital. And our experienced and licensed clinical experts are here to support you both. The treatment we offer is also evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered.

We’re here to help when your teen is ready to find kind and supportive treatment for their depression. Just reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team to learn more about how we can help. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of them.

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