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Teenage Depression - How to deal with Depression in Teenagers

Updated on May 11, 2012

Depression in Teenagers

The stress of the world is telling on our teenagers in the form of depression in teenagers. The number of calls I get, asking for help with teenage depression is on the increase. I wonder if teen depression was so rampant at the time when I was a teenager, maybe, rarely, we did hear of suicides then and those were more to be associated with a love gone wrong.This is not the case today, teenage depression is plaguing our societies and how prepared are we? Have we prepared our children for this world? If statistics is anything to go by, one out of ten teenagers suffer from depression or sever emotional problems and only less than 30% of them receive help.That is an alarming fact, but is anyone listening? Are people aware of the magnitude of depression in teenagers? - I wonder. Your teenager needs you, make sure you are there for them.


Signs of Teenage Depression

Although sadness, hopelessness, crying or change in eating and sleeping habits are great way to tell whether your teenager is depressed or not, you need to keep in mind other significant factors too. Your teenager may be hostile, irritable and violent at times, he/she may avoid company while not all company is shunned. Lacking concentration or showing no energy or enthusiasm could alert you to their emotional states. While these are telltale signs, keep your eyes and ears open for other signs and symbols, what is the subject of their doodles, the poetry, their stories or pictures they draw or paint, the kind of music he/ she is listening to, words and phrases that are casually thrown at you like ‘I am better off dead” or the like. Do not treat these as bad behaviour or shrug them away, be alert and ready to act, especially if you teenager will not tell you what is happening to him or her.

How to Deal with Teenage Depression

A parent once asked me how can I be there for my son, he does not want me anywhere near him? Irritability is a great way to mask depression, teenagers often use this defense mechanism. If you, as a parent are reacting to his/her irritability you would have lost the battle already. If you are not sure how to handle such behaviour, take help, take professional help. It is better to be safe than sorry.

As parents we need to be aware of what is happening with our teenagers. Do we even know what happens in our teenager’s world? Our teenagers live in a tough,meanworld and how connected are we with this world? Are you aware of your teenagers friends, his/her social networking, school college bullies and how he/she is coping with such things? Teenagers tend to hide and put on a brave front. if you are listening, I mean actively listening, to the emotions, that goes beyond the words, the underlying thoughts etc.. you would be a smart parent. Recognize that their world is hugely different from the world you lived in. Accept that you need to learn new skills to handle a whole new generation.

Parenting Teenagers - Dealing with depression

If you teenagers is reacting very strongly to criticism, start looking for clues. Is he/she being bullied else where? I think, as a parent and a counsellor, my best bet would be on making friends with your teenagers friends. My son’s friends tell me all the other things that my son may not have mentioned to me. Not that I am spying, but I need to know what is happening to him. Let me give you an example, from real life. As parents, we hardly ever worry about our son’s scores at school . Our son is a topper and we thought that he was coping very well in that area until a casual conversation with his friends revealed that he was totally shattered about his scores (mind you he had scored 85%) and was moping around in school. This was an eyeopener for me. I was not tuned in to that part of my son’s emotions, he always projects himself to be a person who does his best and does not care about his scores. I had to work with him in this regard, helping him understand that marks/scores are not everything in life. I am sharing this here, hoping that this would open your eyes to your teenagers emotional state. Do not take anything at its face value or for granted.

While some teenagers do cope well others don’t. It is easy for teenagers to go into depression or resort to drugs or suicide as a solution to their problems, if you are aware of the company your teenager keeps, you would have your antennas up. I am often surprised that most parents do not know much about their teenagers. They seem to live in two different worlds, it is time to connect.

Depression in Teens - Parenting Teenagers

Establish communication with your teenagers. It is easier than you think, talk about their kind of music, or their favorite sport or hobby or what ever keeps their attention and you will soon establish workable lines of communication. Build your teenagers self-esteem and confidence. Give them hope, speak positively and tell them they can achieve what they want,in short be their inspiration. Tell you teenager of your struggles and achievement and you would have found some willingness from your teenager to trust in your understanding and compassion as a parent.

Be positive, be the inspiration. Most parents I see are hinged on the negative than the positive. The complain all day long, don’t take me wrong, but do a Google search and you will find more material on rebellious teens, violent teen, problem teens and the like. They cater to the growing searches of parents who are using such negative words to describe their teenagers. As teenagers sense their parents negative attitude, they would even refuse to trust that you can help. It is important to watch what you are saying and what your body language is speaking to your teenager. Winning their trust is the most important step in helping your teenager with depression. The ‘I said so’, ‘I warned you earlier’ and lectures can wait. It is important to reach out to your teenager in depression.

Expect denial. When you ask your teenager about his/her behaviour, be ready to accept denial. it is a great mask. Persist, show genuine concern and love and you would have won your teenager over to your side forever. I have found that working with tweens and teenagers is the most rewarding, once you reach out to them in their need, you are sure to have won their respect and loyalty for a long time to come. Try it, I am not only talking from the point of view of a professional, but also as a parent and a mentor for a number of groups of teenagers.

Listen, and listen again. In one of my more popular articles (with teenagers) Top ten problem of teenagers I have teenagers telling me (read their comments) that their parents never listen, they do not understand, they always assume that they know. All that your teenagers expects from you, is a patient, not judgemental listening. When you listen to them, they know that you value their opinion and thoughts, you consider them to be reasonable and people in their own right.

Empathize and validate their feelings. Yes, it is tempting to tell them to get out of it, you need to do that sometime, but first you have to meet them at their point of need. Gradually you can talk them out of it or into taking help. Sometimes professional help may be the only answer, please do not wait for the worst to happen, act now if you intuition/gut feeling as a parent tells you something is wrong. Putting it off may cost you dearly. Antidepressants are not your answer, try other forms of therapy. I would raise a whole lot of controversy here, saying this, but that is not my intention, the well-being of your teenager is.

Teens with depression

Finally, I would like to say, not all teenagers are rebellious by nature. Take time to consider that all actions have an equal and opposite reaction. We could make mistakes as human being and parenting teenagers is no cakewalk, let the past be, take time to see your teenager as they need to be seen - young men and women in their own right. If you have a teenager who is depressed or know of one, pass this on, take help quickly and hope all will be well with you, my reader. Thank you for staying with me to hear me out fully.


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      wonderful, wonderful advice. definitely voted up

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      From what I seen in my small world, teens are depressed because of a whiny single parent who complains about life. Also TV portrays life as unbearable or unreachable goals (everyone wants to be a star). I just wonder how depressed teens would be if schools filled their schdule with basic classes (reading, writing, math,etc) and no so much free time or socializing time. a big one also for me..keep them busy. Charity work to see how much worse others have it is a good one. Clean the church, neighborhood yardwork to make money. Busy, Bust Busy. Too many parent allow their kids to sit around.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Haikutwinkle, my friend, you are opening the Pandora's box now with that comment... I will only say that psychology is a body of science and as a therapist you respond to people from your fund of knowledge and experience. While I cannot say that for psychics...

      Honestly, if you want help go to a therapist, if you want to be taken for a ride chose the other...

      Thanks for dropping by.. Hope all is well with you - love, Sophie

    • haikutwinkle profile image


      7 years ago

      I learned that some people turn to Psychics to talk about their problems... in your opinion, what are the differences between a psychic and a therapist?

      if you had a post about it, please let me know ;)

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @incomeguru Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Never give up is right!

      @kikalina welcome to my hubs and I am glad that you found it great, I appreciate you taking the time to endorse it.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Melovy thank you for endorsing my views, yes the disconnect with the teenagers and with other parents could be an important contributor to the issue of teenage depression. Thank you for adding value to this hub with your comment. I appreciate that greatly. (sorry, I seem to have posted this on another hub... I wonder how I could have done that) Thanks again.

    • kikalina profile image


      7 years ago from Europe

      What a great hub. I voted up. ty

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Oh yes, respect, compassion and a little understanding could do very well. It is time some parents took a fresh new look at the needs of their teenagers and their attitude towards them....I am often stunned by their negativity. Thank you, Tim, for reiterating these important issues.

    • incomeguru profile image

      Oyewole Folarin 

      7 years ago from Lagos

      This is a very useful hub about teenage depression. I think we parent should never give up all effort in trying to eradicate it completely in our society. Whenever we noticed that they're sad and looking boring, let us engage them in what we keep them busy and happy.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Dear Ruby, I am so glad that you say what you say... the gay issue may not be a problem in my slice of the world (as yet) but I am sure this is an important factor where you live. Bullies are there everywhere.. and bullies are made not born... Yes, we could do much, much more to help our teenagers.. I hope more people start looking at teenagers as real people and not as monsters. Thank you, Ruby, for the value addition..I can always count on you :)

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      What teenage depression stems still unclear, but being able to identify teenage depression and help these young people to cope with it, is my real concern here in this hub. Be it chemical imbalance or emotional imbalance these teens need attention and help. Parents could play a huge part in this process..thank you ALUR for the read and the comment.

    • timorous profile image

      Tim Nichol 

      7 years ago from Me to You

      It's unfortunate that so many parents find themselves so busy with their working lives, that they don't seem to find the time to properly see to their teenager's needs. The stress from such lives also accentuates their negative reaction, when they don't approve of their teen's behaviour.

      You're absolutely right about showing compassion, and a sincere interest in your teen's life. Respect is right up there as well. Nicely written, sofs.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      7 years ago from Southern Illinois

      sofs, You've written a great article. Teenage depression is a very real dilemma. I saw a documentary a few weeks ago about teenage Gay girls and boys committing suicide because of bullying in school. Some left heartbreaking notes stating that they couldn't cope any longer. This is so sad to know. We as parents, Grandparents must teach our children to love all without judgement. Children are not born judgemental,it is a learned process. Thank you. You offer some very good advice..Cheers

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 

      7 years ago from UK

      This is a great hub, and your last paragraph is possibly the most important of all, especially this sentence: "Finally, I would like to say, not all teenagers are rebellious by nature.” Also what you say about parents viewing teenagers negatively is both sad, shocking and true. I’ve seen so many articles that are written as if teenagers are an alien race, when they are simply humans going through a transition. There will be as many ways of coping with that transition as there is at any other time in life.

      I can’t help feeling part of the reason why so many parents feel unable to connect with teenagers is because of all the myths about teenagers being difficult, coupled with a lack of connection with other parents. I used to work on a helpline for parents and the highest percentage of callers had teenagers - the supervisors believed this was partly because in earlier years parents tend to have more contact with each other either in play groups or in the school yard. If parents don’t have support it becomes easier to view their children’s behaviour as wrong rather than to realise the feelings are normal.That then leads to the scenarios you describe. Perhaps some parents even try to connect with other parents by demonising their teenagers.

      I’d also like to add to this excellent hub that sometimes a bout of depression can be a way of working through an issue. My older daughter who is now 13, had a lot of illness over the past year, and I noticed that she often felt depressed just as she started to get better from an illness. Seeing that made it much easier to be able to support her without letting fear get in the way.

    • ALUR profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      Great insight and tips. I often find whether teenage depression or adult depression, people are incapable of seeing the light. It often stems from soul searching. Rather than not allowing the feelings to surface, I have found even with my own state of chaos, honoring all the feelings so they don't overtake.

      Sometimes, it's a chemical issue that has to be dealt with. Either way, depression is a state of breaking open.

      My book on called "Taboo Nation" has a whole short story about it. Check it out!


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