According to the 2019 statistics on adolescents’ mental health from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 3 teens had experienced feelings of hopelessness or sadness, and roughly 1 in 6 had reported having suicide ideation in the past year.
The broad range of socio-personal challenges that adolescents navigate–including bullying, and pressure from peers, school, and their parents—along with the complex changes occurring in their body and mind make them especially volatile and vulnerable to depression and other mental health issues.
If there’s a silver lining to this, it is that, just like in adults, depressive disorders in teenagers are treatable, and compassionate care is available to them. At Westchester Park Pediatrics in Purchase, New York, we live up to our commitment to advancing the health and well-being of the children in our community.
If you’ve noticed your teen has become persistently sad for weeks, withdrawn, and easily agitated or frustrated even over small matters, take heed, as these are possible signs of depression. Below, we’ve provided a few tips for you to help your teen muster optimism and ultimately overcome depression.
Tip #1 Assure your teen that they have your support and availability.
Giving your teen the assurance that you are always there to support them, and that they can talk to you about anything can work wonders on how they feel. Explain to them how having supportive people to lean on is crucial to their well-being. Encourage your teen to talk to their friends as well.
Tip #2 Encourage your teen to do the things they enjoy.
Whether it’s playing an instrument, dancing, doing some artwork, or cooking, have your teen do whatever makes them feel happy—and do it with them. Have the other members of the family get involved as well.
Tip #3 Have them express their feelings in writing.
If your teen doesn’t feel comfortable talking to anyone, even you, about what’s bothering them, it could help to have them express it in writing. Expressing their thoughts and feelings in writing can help them release those pent-up emotions.
Tip #4 “Be kind to yourself.”
It can also greatly help to remind your teen not to beat themself up over their perceived failures or flaws and to realize their good qualities and potential and resolve to patiently overcome their personal obstacles.
Tip #5 Seek professional help.
Your family doesn’t have to go through this alone. Your best bet is to have your teen see one of our board-certified pediatricians. We will do a thorough evaluation and, once a diagnosis is confirmed, use a combination of the interventions mentioned above to help your teen achieve full recovery. We can prescribe medications, do family counseling, and teach your teen coping skills that can strengthen their sense of purpose and give them a sense of accomplishment.
If your teen is experiencing a crisis situation or having suicidal ideation, don’t delay—call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline hotline at (800) 273-TALK (8255). They are staffed with trained counselors who are highly trained to engage, de-escalate, and assist your teen in a crisis situation.