The Best Ways To Support A Teenager With Depression

The Best Ways To Support A Teenager With Depression

Any parent with children in their teenage years is intimately acquainted with sullen silences and non-responses when met with questions. It also wouldn’t surprise you if your child decides to take a nap that lasts most of the day or refuses to lift their head from their screens to hold a conversation with you.

While this is more or less consistent behaviour among adolescents, it can also point to a more serious condition: depression. Witnessing abrupt mood fluctuations could cause you to ponder if they’re having issues with their mental health or if it’s just typical teenage behaviour.

There are ways to definitively tell whether your child has depression, including spotting symptoms like abnormal irritability, outbursts of anger, constant exhaustion, lack of interest, negative self-talk, or suicide ideation.

If you’ve noticed a pattern forming, depression may be the likely answer. Read on to learn how to support your child through this challenging time.

1. Talk to them

Your teenager must be aware that they have your attention and concern during this period. Find some time for you to talk to your child alone. Broaching the subject with one parent would be better than two since the latter approach might make the teenager feel cornered or confronted.

It would help if you began by explaining the behaviours and observations that have worried you in a gentle and non-accusatory manner. You’ll then want to ask some open-ended questions about it to give them the space they need to speak. Try not to shy away from subjects like suicide, thinking it might be too intimidating to talk about; asking about it, in actuality, gives your child the courage to accept what they’re feeling and receive the help they need.

You may not attain the answers you want the first time you talk. That’s why it’s paramount that you keep asking. Remind your teenager that depression isn’t their fault, within their control, or a choice they’ve made and that you’re always willing to listen without judgement.

2. Listen to them

When they begin to respond, ensure you’re actively listening to them. Finish all your tasks when the time comes so that you can provide your child with your undivided attention. People with depression tend to feel like a burden on their friends and family. If you’re slightly distracted, they may take it as a sign of your disinterest and assume that they’re bothering you. Hence, giving them your entire focus is crucial.

When the conversation begins, you’ll want to avoid disrupting your teenager or trying to complete their thoughts. Give them time to articulate their feelings, so you can better understand what they’re going through. Focus on listening rather than responding. Once they’re done speaking, summarise what you comprehended and check if you’re correct. If you’re not, ask questions. Finally, under no circumstances should you try and undermine their feelings by minimising what they say. Validate them and offer them understanding and empathy instead.

3. Get them help

Seeking professional guidance is a significant step to take in this process. A doctor will have the tools and techniques to speak to your child about these feelings and get a definitive diagnosis. The doctor may then help treat them or refer them to someone specialising in mental health to provide treatment. Suppose your teenager seems hesitant to receive therapy or professional help. In that case, you can ease them into it by approaching the school counsellor at first and slowly trying to explain away the stigma behind receiving health for mental health.

4. Give them some leeway

While encouraging your teenager to remain actively responsible and involved can aid them in feeling normal and supported, understanding when it gets too much is equally important.

Depression is an illness much like any other physical sickness. People who get the flu aren’t expected to work as hard as they usually would, so why should a mentally ill person? Individuals with depression often find it harder to focus, work more slowly, and are more likely to be self-critical over the slightest of mistakes.

Support them in doing what they can instead. Provide timely but gentle reminders, avoid criticism, and add pressure to their situation. Doing so will only worsen their compulsion to blame themselves.

Conclusion

No one knows your child better than you. Trust your ability as parents to gauge when something is amiss. If you notice your teenager exhibiting symptoms of depression, talk to them about getting the health they need.

But beyond all that, emphasising your unconditional support is incredibly important. Even if your child doesn’t seem receptive at first, it’s important to remain resilient in your efforts to help.

A Space Between provides a dedicated space and the means for your child to receive services like individual therapy, family therapy sessions, and more. Contact us today to learn more.

Where private practice meets
co-working.
A Space Between provides flexible co-working office spaces for rent to therapists and other professionals in Singapore.
A Space Between is a destination for mental health therapy activities. Counsellors utilise our many conducive therapy rooms for consultations. Located conveniently downtown and offering your independent therapists rent by the hour, we house many professional mental health practitioners, including LGBTQ+ friendly ones. To find out more about the therapists practising in A Space Between, write to us at [email protected].
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