We can easily miss the signs of depression in our young people, putting their mood swings or their emotional outbursts or reactions down to adolescence. After all, we have all been there and we know how difficult it can be. While most teens get through those years without any real problems there are some who cannot get through without our help. This is why we need to pay attention to what they are saying and what they are doing.
Take time to listen
The most important thing we can do to help our teens through depression is to take time to listen. At the start it may be hard to get them to open up, as they might be used to us in our parenting role of correcting or admonishing rather than just listening. They may not be used to the idea of our listening in a caring, non-judgemental way. In fact, our relationship with them might be one of their problems. They might not trust us enough to take us into their confidence. In addition to that, they may feel foolish and think we will make light of their problems and not take them seriously.
Hopefully, with kindness and patience, we will be able to build understanding, so we can help our young people get through this difficult period without any long term effects. Once they see we are giving them this respect and are willing to work with them to get through their issues, they are more likely to trust us. We can then give them real support. If we cannot build this trust we need to find someone who can. They need someone to listen to them and to take their concerns seriously.
Here are some other things we can do:
1. Encourage them to do the things they like doing
2. Make sure they are eating properly and going to bed at a reasonable hour
3. Praise them when they get things right or do things that are positive
4. Encourage them to get help from a professional. The family doctor is a good place to start, but some might prefer a stranger. Maybe your family doctor can recommend another doctor. Maybe they can refer a professional who is experienced in dealing with teenage depression. Go with them so they do not feel alone
5. If you cannot influence your child to go for help then you should go to get some guidance as to the next steps you can take
6. Any talk of suicide or of people who have committed suicide should be taken seriously
7. Any actions which have a finality about them should be taken seriously – giving away special possessions; meaningful goodbyes; getting affairs in order
In helping your teen through depression, you are really trying to change your child’s view of the world from a negative to a positive one. Mostly, you will be able to do this with love, understanding and patience, but if you feel the whole problem is getting beyond you, call in anyone who may have some influence on your child. There may be someone with whom they have a special realtionship – a school counsellor, a family friend or favorite relative. Even if your child objects to involving these people, you still need to do it, as it could be matter of life or death.
You will find more information on teen depression and ideas on how to deal with it at http://www.squidoo.com/teenagers-and-depression William Burnell has 4 adult children and 6 teenage grandchildren and a number of nieces and nephews. He has experienced the difficulties of dealing with troubled teenagers.