Depression and anxiety are common among adolescence: 31.9 percent of all teenagers have had an anxiety disorder, and 8.3 percent experience severe anxiety. Additionally, 13.3 percent of teenagers have had a major depressive episode. Typically, half of depression diagnoses are also diagnosed with anxiety. Both depression and anxiety can make everyday life seem overwhelming. Teens with anxiety and depression can have trouble sleeping and concentrating, feel tired or panicked, withdraw from friends and hobbies, and come off as moody, irritable and uninterested.
As YPs, we can feel frustrated when our teens aren’t able to join in teen activities, maintain interest in spiritual things, or be involved in social situations. However, our teens can also feel frustrated when we are not properly equipped to assist them in dealing with depression.
Here are just a few helps to discuss and deal with depression.
1 “Ask” Sometimes when we know a teenager is going through a hard time, we do not know what to say, so we dont say anything. Sometimes, simply asking and listening without judgment can help validate whatever your teen is feeling. In our haste to “fix things,” we must be careful not to assume the worse and diagnose a different problem as the problem. Ask, listen, and let them talk.
2 “Praise.” Acknowledge the small things they are accomplishing. Depression and anxiety make it difficult to finish tasks teens used to breeze through. This trouble has reset their lives and now they will need you to be patient with them, while still praising their progress. Praise them for the hard work they are putting into daily life, so they know you see their efforts.
3 “Include” Both depression and anxiety are isolating conditions. Invite them to everything, but if they consistently say no, invite them to just join you on a visit or for a meal. Gentle invitations can go a long way toward helping teens break out of isolation cycles and creating space for deeper connection.
4 “Destress” Instead of aiming for all-time highs, ask what’s reasonable, especially in high-stress situations or in time periods where it’s hard to maintain a schedule. For example, if you know a teen is struggling, give them some room especially during high stress times in thier schedule. Be conscience of how busy times can get for a teenager and how much more difficult that may be to handle coupled with depression.
5 “Listen” Forcing treatment options on a teen before they are ready can backfire, but letting them know you are there and just making the offer means the world. Let them lead and when they are ready, they will share issues and ask for your help.
This is in means an exhaustive list, but will get the door open to helping any teen that may be struggling with depression.
However, if your teen is self-harming or at-risk for suicide, they should be referred to professional help immediately. Do not wait until they are ready to talk—self-harm and suicide are emergencies that need professional guidance.
William Davis | YP
Clays Mill Road Baptist Church