If you have noticed that your son has become sad and quiet, you may be wondering if he is depressed. Many people struggle with mental health issues, and almost 13% of teenagers are currently struggling, or have struggled with depression. It is important as a parent to be able to recognize the warning signs so that treatment for depression can begin before things get too serious. If you are looking for ways to help your son with depression, there are numerous options to consider.
Warning Signs and Symptoms
Everyone can have signs of unhappiness at one time or another, but when many of them occur together regularly, this is usually an indication of depression.
Some of the signs and symptoms include:
- Frequent irritability
- Sadness that lasts most of the day
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping all-day
- Low levels of energy
- Difficulty making decisions or focusing on schoolwork
- Low self-esteem
- Marked increase or decrease in weight
- Lack of desire to spend time with friends or family
How to Properly React and Deal with Depression
If you suspect your son is suffering from depression, you are probably like most parents and want to approach him the right way. The first thing to do is to accept the fact that your son has a mental illness. There is often a stigma around depression and other psychological issues, but feeling guilty or ashamed will restrict your capability to help and support your son. Come from a place of love and do your best not to sound condescending or critical.
Having open and honest communication with your son is important. Keep in mind he may not feel like talking at first, so let him know you are concerned and want to help. Let him know you are there whenever he wants to talk and that he is not alone. As hard as it may be, it is also important to discuss suicide and ask if your son has had any suicidal thoughts.
How to Get Help
While being a supportive parent is helpful, it is also imperative to seek professional help. There are many types of treatment for depression, and frequently scheduling an appointment with a therapist or psychologist is a good starting point. Feel free to try a number of people until you find someone your son feels comfortable talking with.
Some people, especially males, may be resistant at first at the thought of therapy. If this is the case with your son, be respectful, and give him some space while letting him know you will support him when he is ready. Treatment will be more effective if he takes ownership of his healing. There are different kinds of therapy you and your son may choose from, including:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Interpersonal therapy
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
It may also help your son to attend group therapy. Knowing he is not alone and that other teenagers are going through similar things can be useful and therapeutic.
Depending on the severity of the depression, therapy alone may not be enough. A trusted psychiatrist may recommend anti-depressant medication.
How Parents Can Cope
Being parents of a son with mental issues can be difficult, and it is important to take care of yourselves as well. Get adequate rest and do things to help de-stress. Various books have been written to help family members cope with the situation, and it may be helpful to seek therapy as a family as well.
Start Treatment Today
More people are becoming aware of depression in adolescents, and there are numerous treatment options available. Treatment should be customized for each person for the best outcome. Seek out treatment for depression that combines a variety of techniques, such as therapy, behavioral milestones, and life skills development, in a caring environment.
Have you had experiences with teens suffering from depression that our readers would find helpful?