Teenage can be a very disorienting period for your child. Apart from physical changes that are evident, a teen also undergoes a lot of emotional changes. This can be confusing to an extent that some teens even lose their sense of identity.
If such changes aren’t addressed and managed well, it could lead to depression. Unfortunately, teen depression is often mistaken for rebellion by most parents.
In this article, we will explore how to prevent the deadly effects of teen depression.
What is depression?
The American Psychiatric Association, defines depression as a medical condition that affects how a person feels, thinks and acts. The condition further leads to loss of interest in activities that one used to enjoy doing.
Symptoms of depression
- Loss of interest
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of sleep or oversleeping
- Increased fatigue
- Suicidal thoughts
- Feeling guilty and a sense of worthlessness
Pointers to teen depression
- Sudden loss of interest in life
Was your teen enthusiastic about playing a certain sport and then all over sudden they do not want to play? Have they lost interest in school?
It is important to observe the activities that your child is keen about. Sudden withdrawal from those activities should be keenly investigated.
- Suicidal feelings
You should be alerted if your child starts talking about how good it would be if they fell asleep and never woke up. Talks of hopelessness should not be taken lightly especially after stressful events such as break-ups or death of a loved one. In case you hear negativity in your child’s talk, be keen to note the content of their words.
- Drug abuse and change of company
If your previously disciplined son starts hanging out with bad company and involving himself with drugs, do not brush it off as bad influence or peer pressure. They would be trying to self-medicate themselves from depression.
How to prevent the deadly effects of teen depression
- Be an exceptional listener
Listen more and talk less. Let your child know you are there for them any time they want to open up. Avoid the urge to be a disciplinarian when you notice negative behaviour. Since depression is psychological torture, being judgmental will escalate their depression.
- Involve a third party
In case your teen refuses to talk to you, do not force them. Forcing them may further alienate them and you may end up losing them forever. Discreetly involve a third party such as a school counselor, church leader or a relative whom your child trusts.
- Prevent social isolation
Encourage your teen to socialize with friends and family members. Arrange activities where your child gets to interact with other people. You can also enroll them in health clubs during school vacations as well as a charity walk or run.
Chances to offer voluntary services at a nearby children’s home or shelter. By helping others, your child’s focus will shift to meeting the needs of other people.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Make sure that your teen eats food that is rich in healthy fats, vegetables, and proteins. Starch found in junk food provides a temporal high that leaves your teen more depressed. Encourage your child to drink plenty of water in order to flush out toxins forming in the body.
Make sure they exercise as well. You can enroll them in interesting activities such as dancing and riding bikes. Encourage your child to have quality sleeping time. Lack of sleep lowers the immune system of the body, making it susceptible to diseases.
- Reduce your child’s screen time
Whereas watching TV can act as an escape from depression, too much of it may increase your child’s depression. What’s more, they may watch programs that may increase suicidal thoughts or guilt.
Support and lifestyle changes can help a teen to snap out depression. However, it is not always enough. If need be, engage a professional who will help you handle advanced stages of depression.
Involve your child in choosing a specialist and treatment options. In most cases, talk therapy will be enough. Avoid over-the-counter prescriptions and engage your doctor. This will empower you to be able to offer the right support to your child.
There is a fine line between depression and puberty changes. As a parent, you should be able to observe and notice extreme changes in the behavior of your child. If noted, curb it as early as possible so that your child enjoys a healthy transition into adulthood.
Do you have tips about preventing teen depression that we can share with our readers? Kindly get in touch or leave comments below
James Ouma is a CTI Clarity Coach, Cyclist and Writer. He is passionate about positive masculinity and helping incarcerated male teens to reconcile with their families and their communities. He loves staring at his bicycle, flipping through movies without watching them, and playing ‘tap out’ with his wife.