How to Talk to a Depressed Teen

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The world is a challenging place for teenagers these days and taking that developmental journey from childhood to young adulthood is more stressful than ever. With the proliferation of social media, expectations for our teens to be popular have gone up. The risks of hurt from insults and exclusion, and the fatigue from never being away from one’s online peer group can lead to all kinds of psychological and emotional problems—all of these factors, not surprisingly, are resulting in a rise of depression with our teenaged girls and boys.

Teens who are stressed academically or socially and feel like they can’t succeed are the most likely to become depressed. Teens of all temperaments can experience depression, but kids who are shy, sensitive, and not highly social skilled are the most vulnerable. Signs of depression can include withdrawal from the family, substance abuse, self-cutting, chronic fatigue, social withdrawal, a drop in school performance, ending participation in previously enjoyed activities, eating disorders (including extreme dieting and compulsive eating) – these are all signs to look for.

Essentially, depression can be characterized as feeling “out of it, as though the desire and energy to participate in life’s positive activities are gone. Nothing seems attractive or exciting and withdrawal from activities or engaging in self-destructive activities replaces healthy engagement. Low self-esteem can result from depression or be a contributing factor.

When parents suspect that their teen is depressed, or is showing any of the above signs, they need to take action and seek professional help. But it can’t stop there. We have to remember that our kids are in that developmental stage of life where they are learning skills for their eventual independence from us, their parents. So parents need to help them learn the life skills for managing their feelings and making healthy, self-valuing choices.

Getting the right kind of counseling is essential. Too often, counselors will work only with the teenager and include only minimal or separate counseling for the parents. The result of this approach is that parents feel disempowered and wait for the therapy to “work” rather than provide the more hands on, active support their teenager needs.

A depressed teen will need their parents to provide emotional support and structure for engaging healthy activities including exercise, good nutrition, appropriate socialization, limited use of social media and managing their school and home responsibilities. Also, family counseling can help parents and teens end control battles that undermine teen accountability, create alienation and often create stress throughout the family. Parent-teen control battles can be a significant causal factor in teen depression as well.

Individual therapy is an important part of the treatment too. It will help a depressed teenager learn to understand and express their most personal feelings and learn to manage them with healthy thinking and healthy behavior.

Teen depression, if thoughtfully addressed, is very treatable. With professional guidance and active parental involvement, we can help our teens regain belief in their wonderful selves and rediscover their passion for life.

By Neil Brown, author of Ending the Parent-Teen Control Battle and host of the Healthy Family Connections podcast.

 

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  1. Baby Rhyme Time

    April 28 @ 10:30 am
    April 28, 2017  |  10:30 am - 10:30 am
    New Dorp Library
    Bring your baby to an interactive program with books, gentle movement, and songs.
  2. Preschool Storytime

    April 28 @ 11:00 am
    April 28, 2017  |  11:00 am - 11:00 am
    Todt Hill-Westerleigh Library
    Stories, crafts, and play time. Join us for our weekly Preschool Story Time for fun, fun, fun!
  3. Playtime!

    April 28 @ 11:00 am
    April 28, 2017  |  11:00 am - 11:00 am
    Huguenot Library
  4. Toddler Rhyme Time

    April 28 @ 11:30 am - 1:00 pm
    April 28, 2017  |  11:30 am - 1:00 pm
    New Dorp Library
    Bring your toddler to an interactive program featuring books, finger plays, action rhymes and more.
  5. Toddler Story Time & Activity Hour

    April 28 @ 11:30 am - 12:00 pm
    April 28, 2017  |  11:30 am - 12:00 pm
    Port Richmond Library
  6. Animal Time

    April 28 @ 2:30 pm
    April 28, 2017  |  2:30 pm - 2:30 pm
    SI Children's Museum
    Join us for this daily program and meet one of the animals from our living collection. Check the white board at the museum for details.
  7. Book Worms

    April 28 @ 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
    April 28, 2017  |  2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
    Walker Park
    Book Worms is a program for children to share and develop their love for reading. Children will be able to develop and advance their literacy skills through a variety of fun and educational literacy games, activities, and library trips. Registration
  8. Wii Time

    April 28 @ 3:00 pm
    April 28, 2017  |  3:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    South Beach Library
  9. Produce perfect pancakes

    April 28 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
    April 28, 2017  |  3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
    SI Children's Museum
    Kids cook continues its culinary vocabulary with the letter “P”. Learn how different cultures like to eat pancakes.
  10. Wii Love Gaming

    April 28 @ 3:30 pm
    April 28, 2017  |  3:30 pm - 3:30 pm
    Stapleton Library
    Challenge your friends and other kids as you play cool Wii games!