Only 38% of adolescent males and 42% of adolescent females who reported experiencing a major depressive episode are receiving treatment. A comprehensive approach to helping depressed youth combines professional therapy and or medication with self-help strategies. These self-help strategies can help change negative patterns and provide the teenager with tools that they can implement and explore on their own.
Socialize In-Person With Supportive Friends
Isolation leads to loneliness, which can lead to a greater feeling of depression. What often helps is to socialize and stay connected with others. A teenager who fights depression may need classmates to listen and lend their support. Sometimes other depressed teenagers are in the best position to do this, so consider an online support group specifically for depressed teenagers.
The movement helps fight depression in several ways, including the release of chemicals to feel good in the brain. Participating in physical activity can help improve the mood of your teen. Exercise also increases body temperature, which can create a sense of calm, and helps your child get distracted from their problems. Any movement can make a difference, be it walking the dog, dancing in the shower or riding a skateboard.
A study published in Public Health Nutrition found that people who routinely consumed commercially baked goods and fast food are 51% more likely to develop depression than those who ate little or nothing. Food feeds the body and the mind. Some foods tend to make depression worse and others can improve it.
For teenagers who thrive on junk food, adding more nutritious foods to their diet often makes a big difference in how they feel. If you need more information on how to implement a healthier diet, schedule a session with a nutritionist who works with teenagers, or look for related information in books and online.
It is important to experience joy and happiness in life. When depression gets in the way, efforts to focus on fun can make a difference. Try to get the teen to participate in activities that give him a sense of joy. Start by writing down a list of everything that is fun, silly, or that generates a moment of joy, and then try to include one of these into your daily activities.
Disperse Pent-up Emotions
Healthy forms of emotional expression can include activities such as punching a punching bag, writing about it, singing music or making art. Accumulated feelings and emotions sometimes need to be released in a healthy way to fight depression. The process of doing so can also help identify some of the negative emotions that often come with depression. Keep in mind, however, that if this becomes a habit, it can eventually lead to ruminating, which can create a more depressed and unhappy mood.
Sleep often plays a role in how a teenager feels physically and emotionally. Follow your teen’s sleep pattern for a few days for more information. The ideal amount of sleep for teenagers is usually eight hours or more each night; However, only 15% of teens report having spent 8 1/2 hours on school nights, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Sleeping too much can also be a symptom of depression.
Self-help Strategies Compliment Professional Treatment
Self-help strategies are not intended to replace professional treatment and are best used as tools to complement therapy and/or medications by reducing symptoms and empowering adolescents to feel better and have more control of their lives. If you have not already done so, set up an appointment for your teenager with a teenage therapist. Mental health problems are usually very treatable, especially when there is emotional support from a mental health professional and the adolescent’s family.