A Step-by-Step Guide to Treating Teen Depression

Teenage depression can be devastating for both the teen and their surrounding family. The teenage years can be a tumultuous time for every family, as teens test the boundaries of adulthood, but this time can be even more difficult for depressed teens surrounded by a society that’s indifferent or even hostile toward mental health.

Many parents may feel overwhelmed by either the cost or logistics of seeking help for their loved one. But breaking down the process into smaller steps can help you find the light at the end of the tunnel.

See a doctor 

A common knee-jerk response to depression is to blame the teen for a failure of motivation or courage; this is not only counterproductive, but it flies in the face of extensive medical studies.

There are many neurochemical disorders and medical conditions that crop up as a teen’s body moves from childhood to adulthood. Thyroid issues, bipolar disorder, and several other physical conditions can have a mood-altering effect on the developing body, so it’s crucial to check for and address any possible physical issues first.

Once physical illness or imbalance have been ruled out by a physician, the next important step is to obtain a referral for a psychotherapist. During this process, feelings of defensiveness and frustration can arise in a parent who believes they have done all they could for their teen. This is natural, but the best way forward is with open minds and hearts ready to learn and grow.

While it’s best to start with one-on-one sessions with only the teen so they have a chance to speak freely, it can be very beneficial at some point to bring in key family members to talk out a solution with a professional.

Formal treatment 

Sometimes it can be necessary to give your teen a break from their immediate surroundings so they can regain equilibrium and find a healthier path forward. Additionally, in more urgent cases where a teen might be in danger of harming themselves or others, the best course of action could be to bring your loved one to a clinic like the Polaris Teen Center

Should your family pursue this course of action, it’s also advisable for family members to seek out therapy or counseling to help ensure post-treatment success. In cases where this is not financially feasible, there are still several things family members can do to support teens undergoing formal treatment. One of the most impactful systems for improving relationships include books, videos, and seminars.

Diet changes

Some parents are understandably hesitant to begin a course of mood-altering prescriptions for their teen, especially if the side effects could be impactful. One alternative is to thoroughly assess your family’s dietary intake. There are some foods which have mood-altering effects; some can exacerbate depression symptoms, and some foods can relieve symptoms. 

It’s a common misconception that it’s too expensive to eat healthier. However, a shopping cart full of fruits and vegetables often comes out to be far less than one full of processed foods. Getting the entire family involved in a healthier diet can improve the entire dynamic in your home. 

More family activities

Having fun together as a family doesn’t have to mean spending a ton of money. There are several low-cost activities you can do together to boost a sense of purpose, connection, and wellbeing. 

One of the simplest low-cost family activities is to create a garden together, which also provides food for your table and a sense of accomplishment. You can use container pots on a balcony or do simple woodworking projects together to create raised beds or garden planters in the backyard. 

The most important currency you need to provide is time. Respect your teen’s social tendencies; some activities are perfect for gregarious extroverts while others are best for introverts, and seeking out gender-neutral activities like gardening can help put your teen at ease. 

Taking a comprehensive approach to your teen’s depression and including the entire family in wellness options can help provide a solid foundation from which your teen can grow into a happy and well-balanced adulthood.