Is Your Teen Depressed? Here’s How You Can Help Them Excel
Help Your Teen Visualize Their Future
Once you have recognized the signs of teenage depression, one thing you can do to help your teen excel is to help them visualize their future. Because depression often causes people to become stuck in a bleak present, it can be hard for your teen to imagine what life is like beyond their depressed state. Help them begin to break free from their depressed outlook by incorporating visualization exercises into their routine such as:
- Break the future into chunks – Talking about the future can be intimidating for teenagers especially since there is so much to think about and plan, both short-term and long-term. Make life more manageable by helping your teen visualize different segments of their future, such as where they hope to go to college, what hobbies they hope to further develop, what they envision themselves doing in their future career, relationship goals, and more.
- Encourage them to dream big – Depression can make even the simplest tasks feel like insurmountable mountains causing some teens to push their parents away and put their future plans on hold. With the forces of depression including lethargy, sadness, and feelings of hopelessness working against your teen, it is more important than ever to keep your teen’s dreams alive. Help them see how these dreams can still be a reality.
- Turn future goals into actions – Even if your teenager feels they know everything, knowing how to turn their dreams into a reality is likely not one of the things they feel confident about. If your child’s dream is to become a concert cellist, for example, then it is up to you as their parent to help them find ways to help turn that dream into a reality. It may require things such as higher grades, acceptance to high-profile programs like Juilliard, internships, or other steps.
Even if your teen struggles with clinical depression rather than situational depression, this future visualization exercise should help give your teen something more concrete to work toward.
Develop A Strong Support System
Parents should not attempt to treat their teen’s depression alone. Not only can it be an emotional burn-out, but it also does not lay the foundation for teens to develop a strong support system. Aside from reaching out to a doctor who can assist in diagnosing and perhaps offering medical treatment for your teen, having a robust support system can prove invaluable to help your teen manage their depression. Here are a few places to start:
- Therapist – A key member of your teen’s support network should be a therapist who specializes in working with adolescents struggling with depression. A qualified therapist can help your teen open in ways that may not be possible with anyone else and recommend specific coping strategies for your teen.
- School – Schedule a meeting with your teen’s teachers and/or the principal of their school to determine what programs they may have in place to help your teen. Most schools offer counseling services if your teen needs immediate help during the school day and opportunities for students to make up missed work due to bouts of depression. A note from your child’s doctors and/or therapist will add extra weight to your request in the event the school is not quick to accommodate your child’s needs.
- Extended family – It used to be that teenage depression and other mental illnesses were dirty secrets in a family. However, with greater awareness and many positive changes being made with how society treats those suffering, it may be helpful for parents to reach out to family members for help. If an older family member has struggled with depression and has still managed to live a full life, they can be a great resource, comfort, and support for your teen.
Being a parent of a teen struggling with depression is hard, but by implementing these tips, you can help your teen excel even in the face of their depression.
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