These days, especially with social media, many teens profess to being depressed. Perhaps there are those who are actually clinically depressed, and as parents, this can be difficult to detect and even address. In fact, due to many teens posting about their so-called depression, it may be hard to distinguish the seed from the chaff, so to speak.
However, what can parents really do if they find out that their son or daughter is actually a clinically depressed teen? How should they handle this? How can they talk and protect their child?
Depression is a Treatable Condition
Depression is a disease, a mental health disorder, and it can be treated. A depressed teen may be diagnosed, but this doesn’t mean they are sentenced to a life of gloom and doom. They can recover and live full, active, and fulfilling lives.
Parents play a crucial role here, as it can start with how you talk to your child and urge them to get the help they need.
How Parents Can Talk to Their Depressed Teen
For teens with depression, it can be hard to discuss what they are feeling to their parents. Here’s what you can do so you can help create a safe and inviting environment so they can open up about their depression and feelings to you.
- Approach your teen in a gentle and calm way. It’s important that they don’t feel judged or dismissed, and for them to feel that their thoughts and emotions are important.
- Talk about your teen’s good qualities and strengths. Remind them of these so that they feel empowered. Make them feel supported, understood, and simple seen for what they are.
- Ask open-ended questions that will make them share their views and feelings. Acknowledge what they have to say and validate their feelings.
- Offer caring statements. Make sure these sound sincere. Say things like “I love you” “I care for you” “I want to help you” “I want to keep you safe.” Genuinely express your concern, affection, and love for your depressed teen. Reinforce, with words and actions, how much you want to help them.
- Remind them that as a parent, it’s your job to make sure that your child is safe and sound, so talking to them doesn’t necessarily mean that you think there’s something wrong.
- Give your teen specific examples of why you are worried, like changes in their behavior. Remember not to sound accusatory or preachy. Share concrete and objective observations.
- Discuss what you can do to help them. Brainstorm for possible solutions.
- Ask your child, calmly, if perhaps they need to seek help. Encourage consultation with a professional.
This may not just be a single conversation, but it’s important that you give your child your full attention each time.
It’s important to also uncover if your teen may be abusing substances, such as drugs and alcohol, because substance abuse often go hand in hand with mental health issues.