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How to Help Your Teen with Depression

Updated on April 11, 2015
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The 10% Rule

It's hard being a teenager in the best of circumstances. It's hard because teens are caught between the adult world and all of it's problems and the lack of control in life. Depression is a result of hopelessness and loneliness. Furthermore, today we deal with a greater number of problems that didn't exist 50 years ago, gun violence in schools, bullying and cyber bullying. There are, however, several practical things that you can do to help your teen fight depression, navigate these difficult years and with your help stave the loneliness that often accompanies it.

The first thing that is a crucial element is establishing communication. This should have been established years ago when your child was born. If you are having difficulty in this area I would suggest having a "date night" with your teen. Do something fun that both you and your teen enjoy, change the scenery, get outside and enjoy nature, go to their favorite restaurant, but make sure you leave time to "chat". While talking and listening to what is going on in their lives encourage hope by letting them know that they have the ability to change how they feel.

Let them know that they do not have to feel 100% better or even 50% better but to try to feel just 10% better. Ask them what would make them feel 10% better right now. Make a list of 10 things that would make them feel 10% better when they are feeling depressed. And then do them, maybe not all of them but some of them. If there are certain areas that are bothering them like school or bullies, think outside the box, change schools, home-school, or if it is feasible have your teen take the GED and attend a Junior College instead of high school. Think outside the box! Your teen should not have to endure torture in order to get an education! If they are being bullied remove them from the situation asap.


Get your child a pet! My preference is a puppy, it will give them something to take care of and love. Make sure that they are getting exercise every day. Think OUTSIDE the BOX! Let them know that there are solutions to their problems, if not today then tomorrow.

Help your child to find something they are good at. Everyone is good at something. Finding that one thing can be difficult but once you've found it, it can make a huge difference in a persons life. Help your child to explore any and all areas that they have an interest in. Many teenagers have been saved from a difficult adolescence simply by delving into a passionate pastime. Look into music, art, mechanical abilities, writing, sewing, acting or sports. Who knows you might discover the next prodigy right in your own home.

Finally, help your teen know that this too shall pass. That someday they will be grown and they will be able to make their own decisions and begin to make their dreams come true, that these years will be gone before they know it. Help make their dreams come true by exploring with them now in order to give them hope for the future. If they have creative interests encourage them to take steps in that direction, if athletic help them in that direction, even if they are just baby steps. If they have entrepreneurial interests find books on the subject and explore that, if they would like to learn a new creative outlet like a musical instrument or painting, sign them up for a class. It's hard to be depressed when you are being creative and/or active, especially when you are good at something. Find what they are good at and help them be all that they can be. But most of all help them see the light at the end of the tunnel, that it isn't a mile down the road but only a few steps down the road today and a few more tomorrow.

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    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      8 years ago from Manhattan

      To Everyone who has commented in the last 2 months: For some reason my email notification was off so I wasn't notified when you wrote your comments. Thanks for commenting and I'm sorry I wasn't able to respond in a timely manner.

    • profile image

      Cee Jay 

      8 years ago

      What great suggestions! My son wanted to join a gym to help his depression. I thought "what a waste of money" but let him go anyway. He has been going to the gym every single day for the past three years. He came out of the depression and is very healthy body and soul. This was an idea I never would have thought of. The school counselor suggested it. I'm so glad I allowed it. It has changes both of our lives. I'm a gym rat now too!

    • JOE BARNETT profile image

      JOE BARNETT 

      8 years ago

      you seem thoughtful and concerned. excellent article , , ,i'll be watching.

    • profile image

      Jesse 

      9 years ago

      I agree... a well-written piece on a difficult, importanat topic. I'm glad I stumbled on your link on Craigslist, as I've enjoyed reading your hubs. Even when I disagreed with you and posted my thoughts, the ensuing back and forth was well thought-out and more importantly, civil.

      I think you really whacked the nail on the head when you wrote about listening to our children. As someone who, like the commentator above me, struggled with depression as a teen, I can remember how frustrating it was to try to convey my feelings to my parents, only to have them respond with defensive, dismissive scolding. It was as though my unhappiness was nothing but a tool I used to pass judgement on their parenting. I also see now, as an adult, how hard it is to give teens the respect and attention they need and deserve. How quickly we forget what it was like to navigate that minefield of emotions and decisions. I know that when things got really bad, though I couldn't come out and say it, I wanted my parents to come to my aid, to nurture and protect me. I did tell them this, if not in capital letters. Most teens will hint at their feelings and worries when they are frightened, and we have to pay attention to pick up on it.

      Thanks again for a terrific post!

    • MM Del Rosario profile image

      MM Del Rosario 

      10 years ago from NSW, Australia

      hi brie,

      thank you very much for answering my request. your suggestions are very helpful. thanks again.

      MM

    • tjmum profile image

      tjmum 

      10 years ago from Isle of Wight

      I suffered from depression as a teenager and had a really difficult time as no-one in my family wanted to listen. It was almost a case of 'grow up' attitude, or trying to hide it under the carpet. My niece has bi-polar disorder and has tried to take her life on many occasions, some serious, others just a cry for help. With medication she is coping - that is all we can say at the moment. It is really important for parents to recognise the difference between teenage angst and real depression. And to give their children the support they need.

      Great hub on a really important issue.

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