What to Do When Your Depressed Teen Refuses Help

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Quick Links: Parent's Guide to Teen Depression | Troubled Teens | Quiz: Could Your Teen Be Depressed?

Question: How do I deal with my teen who appears to be suffering from depression? Although she seems miserable she refuses to get help. How can I help her?

Answer: Unfortunately this is often the case. A depressed teen usually doesn't realize this is the reason for changes in how she is feeling or acting.

Part of the disorder is not thinking clearly enough to see what's really going on, and feeling too lousy to deal with it even if you do.

There are a number of effective approaches to easing a teen into taking the first steps in facing their depression and getting the help they need. There's no right or wrong way to do this. Start with the method that seems to best fit your teens' personality and problems. If that doesn't work, try another.

In helping your teen get the help she needs proceed with gentle but firm persuasion. These varied approaches have all been effective in helping depressed teens to move forward:

  • Talk in specific terms about the signs and changes you've seen in her that concern you and that point to depression.
  • Discuss how having untreated depression can negatively impact her.
  • Make a compassionate deal - for example, tell her that if she'll agree to an evaluation with a therapist specializing in teen depression, you'll treat her to a hot fudge sundae, or whatever motivates her.
  • Attempt to empathize with the pain she is feeling. For example, discuss that while you can't know how she's feeling, outwardly she seems unhappy.
  • Reassure her that being depressed is a common medical condition that she can't control and should never feel ashamed about.
  • Write down and give her a list of the positive qualities you know she has that will help her to heal.
  • Openly acknowledge that getting help takes courage.
  • Reward her for any steps she's willing to take to deal with her depression.
  • Constantly let her know that you're in this with her- that you'll do whatever it takes to help and support her for as long as she needs you to do so.
  • Repeat as often as possible, "I'm really concerned about you, I really want to help, and I'm here for you."
  • Offer to help her develop a list of questions she would ask a professional about depression.
  • Express to your teen that she doesn't have to continue to suffer.

Most of these approaches can be facilitated through direct discussion or e-mails, texts, pictures; whatever it takes to help your teen find the inner resources to take this first step. Do not allow yourself to get discouraged. Do not give up. Teen depression is very serious and treatment is necessary in order to heal.

Quick Links: Parent's Guide to Teen Depression | Troubled Teens | Quiz: Could Your Teen Be Depressed?

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