How to Deal with a Depressed Teen

Learn how to deal with a depressed teen in this Howcast video about child anxiety issues.

I’m going to talk about how to deal with a depressed teen. I think it can be very confusing for parents to understand what’s going on when they have a teenager, and especially what’s going on in their head when they’re not talking to you. So what you need to do is think about what their behavior might be communicating, and then trying to find out more.

So a depressed teen doesn’t necessarily come out and say that they’re sad. They’re showing you that they’re having problems. Now that could be in terms of changes in their behavior, in terms of their eating or their sleeping. Maybe it’s eating more or eating less. Maybe it’s sleeping more or sleeping less. Are they not doing the things they used to do? Are they just not having and are they just not enjoying the things they used to do? Also, are they being less involved with the family? Are they not involved with their friends or their activities like they used to? Of course the other place you might notice a teen is depressed is by looking at their performance in school. And again when it’s a teenager, you may not have been so on top of that, but you want to pay attention to their grades, their activities, how much they’re participating, and their entire academic behavior as well as the behavior you see at home and with friends.

Now the thing that’s also a little tricky for parents these days with teenagers is you don’t always know what’s going on and you need to in terms of their social networks, and that means their social media networks. So kids can be bothered by things that are going on online. They can also be keeping some of those things underground and away from you, because it’s happening not in front of you but in front of them. And we have Facebook and emails, and all sorts of text, and it’s coming right into their own home, but you may not see it but they’re being very impacted by it.

So changes in their behavior, being more angry, being more upset, being more sad. It’s going on too long. You don’t really have an explanation for it. I think there’s never any harm in trying to find out more. Sometimes you may need to sit down and talk to your teen and just ask them how they’re feeling, and if they’re feeling sad, or labeling what you’ve noticed, and it seems like they’re not so involved with their friends anymore. And the things you’re particularly paying attention to is if they’re feeling hopeless or helpless about their life or about some problem that they’re having that they can’t seem to solve. And certainly if a child ever talks about self-harm, then you want to be very careful and be proactive about getting some help for that. The sooner you intervene and help a teenager that’s depressed, the much better the long-term outcome is for them to learn how to feel better and what to do to stay feeling better.