If you suspect that your teen might be depressed, talk to them in a loving, non-judgmental way about how they are feeling. Let them know what specific signs of depression you have noticed and why you are worried. In general, ask your teen to share what they are going through and be ready to really listen. Make it clear to them that you are willing to provide whatever support they need.
Some tips for communicating with your teen:
- Listen, but don’t lecture: Resist the urge to criticize or judge. Instead, just be there with them in the moment.
- Be gentle but persistent: Talking about depression can be difficult; don’t give up if they shut you out initially.
- Acknowledge their feelings: Don’t try to minimize or talk them out of their depression – even if it seems irrational or silly to you. Parents often mean well when they try to explain to their teen why things “aren’t that bad,” or to “look on the positive side,” but this may leave your teen feeling like they are not understood.
- Go with your gut: If your teen says that nothing is wrong or doesn’t open up, listen to your instincts. It can help to turn to a third party – a therapist, school counselor, favorite teacher or coach can often be helpful. The important thing is for your teen to start talking to someone.
If you suspect that your teen may be suicidal, take immediate action. For 24-hour suicide prevention and support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.