There are different treatments for depression, but keep in mind that teen depression is often not treated the same as depression in adults. There are medications available to help teens with depression, but typically they are needed only temporarily. Treatment of teen depression must involve regular counseling and close supervision, since some medical treatments can make the depression more severe before they take full effect and begin helping. The good news is that most teens grow out of depression in a few years.

A depressed teen may have been having relational problems at home or is being picked on or bullied at school. But usually severe depression comes from another problem in their life such as an eating disorder, drug addiction, physical abuse, loss, or medical condition. Some teens just need to eat a better diet and get more sleep at night, but depression and suicidal thoughts are not something I'd recommend anyone treat with home remedies. A depressed teen generally doesn't have the ability or strength to solve their own depression.  Attempting to help "shake them out of it" can cause the depression and despair to deepen, since it only serves to point out their own failure to improve their life.

What's  a Parent To Do?

If you are the parent of a depressed or suicidal teen, it's important that you try to understand them, listen to them and try not to be accusing. Respect your teen's opinions and problems and avoid blaming them or yourself for their feelings. Being a teenager is hard today and your child is justified in their feelings, even if you may not agree or understand. When you realize this, you can help your child.   

Remain in contact; even if you no longer have any control over your child's life.  It can make all the difference.  Do what you can to bring family members and the friends they've abandoned back into their life. Get out family pictures and videos to show them better times. 

No matter what mischief your child is doing in their life, hope is needed more than judgment at this time.  So encourage them by getting them out to experience good things that can add abundance to their life.  Sometimes it helps to ask a positive-thinking relative to take them into their home for a time to give the teen a change of scenery.  Get them on a good diet.  Get them outdoors to soak in some vitamin D.  Regular exercise really helps.  And find a loving pet that they can take care.  Having the responsibility for a pet can sometimes cause a teen to think twice before taking themselves out of the picture.  It also gives them a "pal" to talk to who is totally loyal and non-condemning. 

Finally, plan fun events several months in the future that they can look forward to, and keep reminding them of that date.  For teenagers, the point is to create a bridge to help them get past this period of hopelessness and into a better mindset.

Please don't be slow in getting professional help.  I've seen many hundreds of teenagers who have become different people from medication designed to correct a deficiency in their developing brain.  Others are helped by regular counseling to deal with their inner issues, or with treatment for their drug habit or other addictions in their life.  Get the help your teen needs, before they become a statistic.

July 30, 2010

Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and executive director of Heartlight, a residential counseling program for struggling adolescents. Mark can also be followed on Twitter @markgregston and at Facebook at /parentingteens.