A comprehensive approach to helping depressed teens combines professional therapy with self-help strategies. These self-help strategies can help to shift negative patterns and provide teens with tools they can implement and explore on their own.
Movement helps combat depression in a variety of ways, including releasing feel- good chemicals into the body. Participating in any physical activity may help improve mood and any type of movement can make a difference, whether it’s walking the dog, dancing in the shower or skateboarding.
2. Pay attention to nutrition
Food fuels the body and the mind. Some foods tend to make depression worse and some may make it better. For teens who thrive on junk food, adding more nutritious foods to their diet often makes a difference in how they feel. If more information is needed, schedule a session with a nutritionist who works with teens, or search for related information in books and online.
3. Socialize and get support
Isolation leads to loneliness, which may lead to increased feelings of depression. What often helps is to socialize and stay connected with others. A teen struggling with depression may need peers who will listen and lend their support. Sometimes other depressed teens are in the best position to do this, consider an online support group specifically for depressed teens.
4. Vent feelings
Pent-up feelings and emotions sometimes need to be discharged in healthy ways in order to combat depression. The process of doing so can also help identify some of the negative feelings that often go along with depression. Ways of venting may include activities such as hitting a punching bag, writing it out, or singing along to music.
5. Focus on sleep patterns
Sleep often plays a role in how a teen feels physically and emotionally. Track sleep patterns for a few days to get more information. The ideal amount of sleep for teens is usually eight hours or more each night. In cases where more, or less, sleep is needed learn about the factors that impact sleep, and consult a health professional if needed.
6. Don't use drugs
When a teen doesn’t like how they feel or act some experiment with drugs, including caffeine, in an effort to self-medicate. In most cases a teen doesn’t realize this is what they are doing, they just look for ways to try to feel better. Teens who turn to drugs usually make a bad situation worse.
7. Have fun
Experiencing joy and happiness in life is important. When depression gets in the way, efforts to focus on fun can make a difference. Try to participate in activities that bring a sense of pleasure. Start by jotting down a list of anything that is fun, silly, or creates a moment of joy – then try to include one of these in each day’s activities.
Self-help strategies are not intended to replace professional treatment and are best utilized as tools to help with teen depression by decreasing symptoms and empowering teens to feel better and more in control of their lives.