Tips for parents

By Dr. Poonam Khanna, D.O./Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

Dealing with depression is difficult—we all want our children to be happy, and we will do anything to ensure their happiness. This can lead to a feeling of helplessness or even guilt when your child is depressed and you can’t fix it. But don’t feel solely responsible for getting your teen smiling again. These tips can help make parenting a teen with depression easier:

Get the right treatment. This is perhaps the most important element, as some symptoms of depression can only be treated with medication. Consult a doctor if you suspect anything is wrong. If depression goes untreated, it could result in risky sexual behavior, substance abuse or suicide.

Make it a family issue. Get your entire family involved with therapy. Depression can disrupt the family unit, and parents, siblings and any other close family members should be involved in the solution. Teens with depression need support and involving the whole family can help heal all family members.

Listen. Don’t write off your teen’s feelings as trivial or triggered by adolescent hormones. If your teen is talking to you, listen. Resist offering advice or jumping to conclusions; an open conversation can be very helpful in dealing with depression. Your teen needs to know that they are being heard and that you will always be there to help.

Implement a sleep schedule. Studies have shown that teens who go to bed earlier have fewer cases of depression or thoughts of suicide. Teens need approximately 9 hours of sleep every night, so set a bedtime for your teen, and stick to it.