5 Ways to Help a Depressed Teen

Seek help for a depressed teen right away
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While it’s normal for teens to be irritable or moody sometimes, depression goes beyond the emotional roller coaster that accompanies adolescence. Depression can affect all areas of a teen’s life and in some cases, the consequences can be fatal.

There are four types of depression commonly found in teenagers. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of depression so you can intervene as soon as possible if you think your teen may be struggling with a mental health problem.

Here are five ways to help a depressed teen:

1. Seek Professional Help

If you think your teen may be depressed, seek professional help right away. Schedule an appointment with your teen’s pediatrician to discuss your concerns or talk to a mental health professional. Depression is very treatable with professional intervention.

It’s essential to be involved in your teen’s treatment. Treatment may involve therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Educate yourself about your teen’s treatment options and monitor your teen’s progress.

If your teen needs immediate attention, go to the emergency room or contact a crisis line. Take any comments about suicide very seriously and seek help right away. Depression can cause a teen to behave impulsively and irrationally.

2. Encourage Physical Activity

Exercise can help ease the symptoms of depression. Invite your teen to go for a walk, play basketball, go swimming, or do anything that involves physical activity.

Limit your teen’s screen time. Countless hours of TV, video games, or computer time could make depression worse. 

3. Gently Push Your Teen to Participate Leisure Activities

Depression can cause a teen to lose interest in a variety of activities. If a teen stops participating in activities—like sporting events or youth group—his depression may grow worse.

Gently push your teen to stay involved in activities.

Whether your teen wants to skip soccer practice, or he says he no longer wants to play the guitar, encourage him to keep going. Participating in those activities—even when he doesn’t feel like it—can boost his mood.

4. Insist on Healthy Sleep Habits

Some teens take frequent naps when they’re depressed. Others, stay up all night and sleep all day.

But, these unhealthy sleep habits can interfere with your teen’s natural body rhythms and can make depression even worse. Proactively encourage your teen to establish healthy sleep habits

Don’t allow your teen to take naps during the day. Daytime napping will only interfere with your teen’s ability to sleep at night. Instead, encourage plenty of exercise during the day and limit screen time before bedtime, which can delay sleep by interfering with melatonin production in the brain.

Wake your teen up at a reasonable hour on weekends and vacations. Let your teen get an extra hour of sleep on non-school days but don’t allow your teen to sleep half the day away. Doing so will only lead to more sleep difficulties.

5. Encourage Healthy Social Interaction

Depression usually leads to social withdrawal.

But isolation only makes depression worse. Limit the amount of time you let your teen stay in his bedroom on his own. Encourage him to come and spend time with the family.

It’s also important to encourage your teen to socialize with friends. Healthy social interaction can help ease depression. Encourage face-to-face contact—rather than interaction on social media only. Friends may be able to get your teen involved in fun activities that could also help alleviate depression.