How To Help Your Depressed Teen

By Amber Arevalos

The teenage years are the most challenging years to navigate as parents.  It can become difficult to understand the difference between normal adolescent emotions or something more profound.  Teens challenge their parents and sometimes the world to find their path only to face obstacles and emotions that challenge them.  Life can get overwhelming, and your teen may be faced with depression.  There are several steps to take when dealing with a teenager who is feeling depressed.

Mhanational.org provides some signs to watch for in your teen


  • Poor performance in school
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Sadness and hopelessness
  • Lack of enthusiasm, energy, or motivation
  • Anger and rage
  • Overreaction to criticism
  • Feelings of being unable to satisfy ideals
  • Poor self-esteem or guilt
  • Indecision, lack of concentration or forgetfulness
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Substance abuse
  • Problems with authority
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

This list is not to diagnose but merely a way to identify when your teen needs help or the severity of support you and your family may need to help your teen.  

Help.org says that it’s estimated that one in five adolescents from all walks of life will suffer from depression at some point during their teen years.  The most challenging idea for your teenager to understand is that you, too, were once a teen and may have faced similar situations.  They will walk away or assume you have no idea what they are going through, but be open to listening when they are ready to confide in you.  Support your teen by making them feel safe and free to speak in a non-judgmental zone.

Asking minimal questions and not patronizing is best when dealing with a depressed teen.  Help.org suggests focusing on listening, not lecturing.  Be persistent but not overbearing.  It can be difficult for your teen to express what they are feeling or even understand what they are feeling.  Try and create a more social environment where you set aside time for your teen each day.

In more severe cases, your teen may feel as if they can not speak to you.  Let them know that help is available even if it is not you; numerous outlets can guide your teen through these emotional years.  There are specialist and alternate treatment options for your teen to choose from.  Know when to seek professional help and give your teen as much emotional support through their recovery. 

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