Adolescence is a vulnerable time for teens emotionally and psychologically. This is particularly true because teens are pulling away from parents. They are also seeking their sense of self through friends and social groups. Despite moving closer to friends and pulling away from parents and family, teens continue to have a need for parental love and acceptance. And while making this transition, teens may become vulnerable to depression and other forms of mental illness.
However, there are a few simple ways that you can support your teen in order to encourage their mental health. Here are five ways to help prevent teen depression.
1. Love your teen unconditionally. The relationship between child and parent is essential during adolescence. As described above, your teen is going to want to pull away. Nonetheless, showing that you are there for your teen, making sure that you have a relationship that is open and honest can create a feeling that your teen can come to you when he or she needs to. Some ways to do this is to
- Set aside each day to talk.
- Find out what your teen is excited about.
- Praise his or her achievements.
- Offer positive feedback.
- Respond to your child’s anger with calm assurance versus more aggression.
2. Foster friendships and social networks. It’s actually important that your teen spend time with friends. He or she is searching for a sense of self during this life stage and being able to be with others is an essential component to this life task. Positive experiences with friends and peers can help prevent depression.
3. Monitor media use. Adolescents tend to stay focused on their individual lives, lost in their smart phones, and having their attention shift from one piece of technology to another. There’s no real connection that might be satisfying and psychologically nourishing. Preventing depression includes encouraging your teen to have interaction with others that are fulfilling and engaging. Furthermore, much of the media, including television and movies include a large amount of violence, which can aggravate feelings of depression.
4. Encourage your teen to exercise. Physical activity can release endorphins, which alone help to boost positive feelings. However, exercise can also help with long-term mental health, including making new connections in the brain, which alone can facilitate enduring change. Furthermore, to experience these benefits from exercise, your teen doesn’t have to run three miles a day; taking a walk regularly can boost mental health.
5. Promote a healthy sleep routine. Although this might be difficult to establish at first, a teen who goes to bed and rises at the same time every day might feel the difference in his or her mental health. Depression usually inhibits a regular sleep schedule; it will either cause little sleep or oversleeping. Yet, having a regular schedule can help with getting the right amount of rest. If sleeping becomes a challenge, remove the distractions in the bedroom such as a television or computer.
These are suggestions for preventing depression in your teen. However, if you have concerns about the psychological health of your teen, contact a mental health provider today.