Depressed teens and how to reach them. That is the big question. There is several amounts of information and research that has been conducted showing the benefits of counseling for depressed teens. Cognitive behavioral therapy is seen as one of the most effective modalities in helping our teens with depression, anxiety and fear.
Teen depression is very serious. Depression in teens lead to a series of problems such as: Isolation, sadness and loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed, extreme moodiness, withdraw from peers and family, thoughts of suicide. It not only leads to emotional problems but physical ones as well. Symptoms can be different in teens than we see in adults.
Did we as a society forget how devastating social media is to our teens? They have access at the touch of their fingertips to any and everything on the web. On top of the pressure to look a certain way, act a certain way, they have extreme academic pressure put on them. This is done not only by the schools but parents as well. This pressure to perform at unrealistic expectations gets internalized in a teen and the messages they carry with them become their mantra or conditioned belief about who they truly think they are.
Will power alone will not help a teen release from depression. They may be scared to admit they are feeling depressed and do not know who to turn to.
Be Real and Don’t Avoid the Tough Talk
Stop having small talk with your teens because your uncomfortable with the topic. Go further than discussing chores, grades and the achievements you have set for them. Ask them about their day. See what it looks like through the eyes of your teen. Ask open ended questions. What was the very best part of your day today? Attune yourself to their world. Do you know their deepest fears, passions and desires?
Back off of them and Give them Space
Give your teen some space. Stop being a helicopter parent. They need space to explore and separate from you and your demands for them. By stepping back you can then see them clearly. Are they losing interest in activities they once loved? Do they stay up at night unable to rest? If your worried ask them if they want to talk but respect the fact that they may not feel comfortable talking to their parent. Don’t make it personal.
Stop Getting Angry and Frustrated
Most parents want to instantly go into the “fix it” mode. Watch our for your own codependency. Yes seeing your teen depressed is difficult. You may even want to punish them for not wanting to attend activities they have planned. Sometimes the teen has difficulty expressing their emotions so they come off defiant and angry. Seek to understand them and not punish them. Try to respond with care and compassion. You may want to say, “It seems your really upset lately, do you want to talk about what is going on with you?”
Get your teen help if your worried. Sitting in silence does nothing for anyone but create more problems. Talk to their teacher, seek counseling from a professional mental health counselor. Offer the help and let them know that by seeking help they are able to talk to someone privately and that you will not be there to listen to their every word.
Get Help For the Whole Family
All are affected when your teen is depressed. It reaches the other children and your spouse. Getting help for the depressed teen is vital but also seeking family counseling is very important. The cause of the depression could very well be stemming from issues inside the house. Don’t let pride and ego as an adult keep you from setting a good example to your teen that seeking help is very beneficial.