Depression among teens is one of the largest growing concerns relating to the adolescent years. Because the age is a time of great physical and emotional change, it is not uncommon for most teens to experience depression in varying degrees. As a parent, it is important to know how to help your child navigate these difficult emotions and stay on track to becoming a happy and healthy individual. If your teen is struggling with depression, there are a few lifestyle changes that may help.
- Exercise – Regular exercise can greatly improve the effects of depression. While feeling “down” also leads to lethargy and a reluctance to be active, once your teen gets into the habit, he will likely notice a difference in his mood fairly quickly. Encourage your child to do something he or she enjoys like biking or dancing. Even a brisk walk for 15 to 30 minutes counts.
- Nutrition – Depression and nutrition go hand in hand. Whether your teen feels the need to eat compulsively or has very little appetite, both can affect their mood and energy. Proper nourishment and healthy portions can go a long way toward helping your teen feel better. Above all, help him avoid the temporary high and inevitable crash that comes with eating sugary junk foods.
- Talk and Act– When your teen broods about feelings and situations without sharing his concerns, they tend to seem larger. Identifying and talking about the issues that are bothering him is a healthy way to relieve depression and bring things into perspective. If he is unable to open up to you, encourage him to find a trusted friend or family member in which he can confide. Many teens also benefit from regular therapy visits. Remind him that while bringing his negative feelings into the open can be healthy, continually dwelling on them is counter-productive. When possible, help him take action to solve his concerns.
- Healthy Expression – Encourage your teen to find a creative way to express himself. Exercising the imagination through mediums such as writing, drawing, painting, sewing, theater, music or dance can help build self-esteem and feed positive emotions.
- Practice Looking on the Bright Side – If your teen is depressed, it can be easy to fall into the outlook that everything is hopeless or dismal and it takes practice to see the good in people and situations. While it is important to validate the pain and sadness that your teen is feeling, you can encourage him notice the positive as well as the negative. Works on helping him recognize his strengths, talents and blessings.
Depression is often a bumpy road and can take time to heal. Remember to be patient and be there to celebrate the small victories. While some depression is common in most adolescents, seek professional help if it seems particularly severe, long-lasting or resistant to your efforts. Some teens require outside intervention or even medication in order to get themselves back on track.
Liahona Academy is a residential treatment center located in southern Utah. We specialize in helping troubled teen boys overcome the devastating effects of depression and anxiety through a safe and caring environment where boys can discover their strengths and regain their self-esteem. If you have questions about our program or would like a free consultation, please call us today at 1-800-675-8101.