Depressed Teen

QUESTION: How can I help my depressed teen?


If you have a depressed teen in your family, you are not alone. Almost every family in the United States today has a family member or knows of another family that has a teen suffering from depression. It is one of the fastest growing teenage problems we face today. Teenage suicide is at an alarmingly high rate. Each year more than 5,000 young people, ages 15 to 24, kill themselves. This rate has nearly tripled since 1960, making it the third leading cause of death in adolescents and the second leading cause of death among college-age youth. What can we do to help our own teen?

Remember in school how they used to have fire drills periodically? I think every family should have a comparable plan to handle teen depression: depression drills. Before you start the drills, it would be good to be informed about what depression actually is. Talk to your family doctor, read literature and educate yourself on the condition. Also, be informed about the transition your child is going through: the one from a young child to becoming a young adult.

  • Depressed Teen Drill: Objective #1 - Realize your teen is probably stressed! Peers, parents, school teachers, sports coaches, and other adults bombard them with problems but no solutions. Added to all of that is the fact that they are changing physically. They have growth spurts, new hormones to deal with, and other physical changes. Each teenager is different and may feel they aren't advancing as fast as their friends or class mates. Imagine what this is doing to them! They want to grow up so fast, which is physically impossible since the brain of a young adult is not mature until about age 22. They still need guidance and help in making the proper decisions, but try telling that to your teen! They probably won't acknowledge anything you say because most young people think they are ready for adulthood years before they actually are physically, mentally, and spiritually. As you can see, a lot is going on throughout their entire bodies!

  • Depressed Teen Drill: Objective #2 - Realize that communication is very important! Whether your teen is depressed or quite the opposite, communication is essential. Keep in touch with what is going on with them. Talk to them about feelings, experiences, and changes they are undergoing. They need lots of guidance at this point in their lives. Ask yourself if your teenager is making friends in school? Healthy relationships with peers are very important for their self esteem and provide an important social outlet. Chances are, if your teen is busy in sports, school activities, a job or a hobby, they will stay focused on positive activities rather then negative feelings or behaviors. If your teen is a member of a special program, such as Boy Scouts, church activities, or special interest groups, it helps them develop additional interests. Even when teenagers are involved in extra-curricular activities, the possibility for depression still exists. Parents have the responsibility not only to oversee all this activity, but also to tap into the mind of a teen who doesn't think they need help. It's a full-time job.

  • Depressed Teen Drill: Objective #3 - Realizing the importance of family. Is the family involved in a healthy lifestyle? What is your family's daily routine? Teenagers are very dependent on their family at this stage of development. They will be the last one to admit that, but they still need the security of knowing you are there for them. I have found through my own experience with teenage depression that family church attendance and daily prayer help tremendously. Good spiritual health gives teenagers security and helps with their self esteem. They are searching for who they are and may have identity problems at this age. They may be questioning authority, exploring life issues, and contemplating many other things. A strong spiritual foundation makes this transition much easier for them. Remember the old saying "A family who prays together stays together"? This pertains to your teenager as much as to your spouse. You want your teenager to stay with the family until he is ready to go out into the world on his own. He needs to finish growing first, and that involves not only physically, but mentally and spiritually also.

  • Depressed Teen Drill: Objective #4 - Realizing when it's time to take action! If you start noticing serious changes in their mood and it disrupts their normal routine, you may need to take action. First you need to show your teenager that it is okay to ask for help. You may need to take the first step and get help for yourself. If you are worried and in a panic, you will not be able to help. Your teenager needs to know that you are in control and stable. Show them it is okay to talk to a professional. They are more likely to get help if you lead them by example versus forcing them into seeking help. You may ask what types of assistance are available out there for my depressed teen? Therapy can help your teen understand why they are depressed and teach them how to cope with stressful situations. You may want to consider individual, group or family counseling. You can get Christian counseling. Medications may also be prescribed by the psychiatrist and may be necessary to get them on the right track.

  • Depressed Teen Drill: Objective #5 - Realize when you need outside help. Studies show that depressed people have too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Treating depression like you would any illness such as diabetes takes the fear out of it. Also consider if you have a family history of depression that may increase the risk that your child has it. Other factors that contribute to depression are difficult life events such as death or divorce. Whatever the cause, it is very important that your teen receive prompt, professional treatment. Depression if left untreated, can become life threatening.

    What if all these forms of help fail? If you aren't successful in getting your depressed teen to open up to you or a therapist, there are other ways. You may want to try getting them into some sort of support group. It is important for teenagers to know they are not alone and that there are other people just like them. If you can find a group of teenagers that all have the same problems in common, this may help them open up and communicate their feelings. Ask your therapist for alternative treatments that are available in your area.
Learn The Signs of Depression.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? - We have all sinned and deserve God's judgment. God, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him. Jesus, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Bible. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your Savior, declaring, "Jesus is Lord," you will be saved from judgment and spend eternity with God in heaven.

What is your response?

Yes, today I am deciding to follow Jesus

Yes, I am already a follower of Jesus

I still have questions