Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world. In fact, teenage depression is on the rise, especially with the global pandemic that is Covid-19. It is vital that we look at ways to prevent teenage depression.
Although many factors may be the cause of depression, it can be treated, and even prevented.
According to a study by WHO (World Health Organization), an estimated 10-20% of teenagers experience mental health conditions like depression.
Most of these conditions remain underdiagnosed and undertreated.
This might come as a surprise to you that your teenager is depressed. What can you do to prevent teenage depression? How would you react?
The teenage years are unique and influential. A young person undergoes many changes: for example, growth spurts, physical, social and emotional changes.
For teens, it is a time for self-exploration, realization and usually fun. However, this time can also turn out to be a difficult and challenging one for some.
It is a crucial and vital stage for developing and maintaining social and emotional habits essential for their well-being.
What Factors Contribute to Depression in Teenagers?
Many youngsters experience some risk factors that heighten their chances of developing teenage depression.
These factors may include:
- peer pressure,
- sexual identity and exploration,
- perception of their future,
- unsafe or violent home environment,
- even abuse.
So, how can the parents ensure their teenagers are not falling into these traps? What tools or tactics can you use to prevent teenage depression?
1. Provide Care and Love to Prevent Teenage Depression
The first and most important way parents can prevent teenage depression is by providing constant care, love and support. Parents are the “go-to” people that teens seek out in times of need.
As teenagers maneuver through life, they are often unwilling to seek help. It may show that they are not yet in control of their lives.
Parents should be supportive, always offer advice and show love to their children. Loving and concerned parents set the tone for a good relationship.
Teenagers raised in a home surrounded by love and care are less likely to suffer depression. This is comparative to children where the love and support is not offered freely.
It’s vital to learn more on ways of parenting with love and logic so that you can help your teen not to fall into depression.
2. Foster Strong Social and Emotional Skills
A parent can also ensure their teen does not fall into depression by teaching and encouraging strong social and emotional skills. These skills often go a long way in decision-making and problem-solving.
The new changes and challenges in a teen’s life often lead them to question their capabilities. A lack of ability to deal with some issues is a matter that parents should be acutely aware of.
Parents should ensure they model, teach and inspire good social skills. These skills include how to handle friendships, romantic relationships and how to have a safe social life. This awareness will help curb social anxiety and prevent teenage depression.
Apart from social skills, parents should ensure their teens can handle stressful and emotional situations effectively. This practice is useful when a parent acknowledges and is sensitive to the child’s feelings.
As a parent, you should always be ready to listen and offer a helping hand.
3. Open Communication can Reduce Teenage Depression
A parent should always keep the lines of communication with their teen open. This openness will help solve issues efficiently and promptly. Children who feel they can’t talk to their parents tend to keep to themselves and shut off.
Mistrust always crops up when the relationship between the parent and teen is not open. Therefore, teens feel like they have no one to trust.
Lack of proper communication fosters doubt and uncertainty, making them highly prone to teenage depression.
4. Encourage Positive Peer Influence
A child should be encouraged to engage with their peers safely. Positive peer influence often leads to a well rounded and thriving teen.
On the other hand, a child who falls into negative peer pressure ends up with a troubled life. In fact, it is these that are most likely to fall into teenage depression.
Therefore, parents should encourage and foster positive peer influence to ensure their child lives a healthy life. For example, they can encourage their teens to join sports, educational clubs, church or any environment that nurtures good behavior and positivity.
5. Healthy Living May Prevent Teenage Depression
Another way a parent can prevent teenage depression is by developing healthy living. When a teen is physically, emotionally and even spiritually healthy, they can handle themselves safely.
Parents should encourage their children to exercise and stay active and eat a proper diet. Doing these things will help them effectively handle their emotions.
When an individual is physically and emotionally fit, the likelihood of getting depression is much less.
6. Always Be Aware of Their Functioning
Parents should be aware of their child’s behavior, moods, grades at school, etc. Indeed, keeping a close watch on these can help ensure a child is okay.
Teenage depression will often begin with subtle changes in these areas.
When parents are aware of what is going on in their teen’s lives, they can quickly solve issues.
Apart from behavior change, a parent should also be mindful of the child’s friends and whereabouts. This awareness can help a great deal in ensuring they do not fall into the wrong crowd and bring forth unnecessary issues.
7. Teenage Depression is Reduced When They Feel Safe and Secure
A parent should provide a safe and secure environment for their child.
Physical, verbal and psychological trauma at home is more likely to lead to teenage depression than a safe home environment. Also, a teen who witnesses abuse from one parent to another is more likely to suffer depression.
8. Be on Their Team
A parent should be on their child’s side and have their back at all times. It fosters trust and the feeling of support.
For example, when parents allow their child to follow their dreams, nurture, and participate in building them, they are less likely to grow ill-feelings towards them.
On the contrary, if a parent is always negative and restricts their child’s dreams it kills their ambitions and self-esteem. It makes them susceptible to teenage depression.
Parents should also ensure they investigate issues brought against their children. They should listen before judging and criticizing.
Depression in teenagers has been on the rise and needs urgent addressing. Parents are encouraged to use measures and tools to help prevent the onset of teenage depression.
Offering a listening ear and providing a safe environment are great ways for a parent to prevent teenage depression.
Furthermore, when a parent suspects their teen is depressed, they should seek professional help and create a loving and non-judgemental environment.
Anupriya is the SEO Strategist and a founder of ParentingSquare, an online resource that provides information about parenting. Being a mom of a little girl, inspires her to write and share information on parenting. She is an active member of the Circle of Moms and Mom Summit.