Teens have a variety of health concerns that, while not strictly unique to them, affect them in a unique way. One example is depression. While adults and teens alike can become depressed, because teens do not have the life experience or independence of adults, depression can feel particularly overwhelming. They may not realize they are depressed if they have not been exposed to it before, and they may not have the ability to access the resources they need without parent intervention. Without supportive parents, a depressed teen runs the risk of going untreated for an extended period of time, which could have fatal consequences. Therefore, if you are a parent of a teen, it is imperative that you take steps to prevent teen depression.
The most important thing to prevent depression is unconditional support. The more isolated a teen feels, the more likely it is that they will become depressed; therefore, having strong and positive relationships with friends and family is crucial. As the parent of a teenager, there are ways you can communicate unconditional support for your child. For example:
- Make time every day to talk to your teen about their day
- Create an environment that encourages your child to express their feelings
- Give positive feedback for positive behavior
- Stay calm in the face of their anger
Encourage friendships with peers
Another way to ensure that your teen is getting the support they need is by encouraging them to build strong friendships. As you probably remember from being a teen, it can be difficult to feel comfortable opening up to your parents. While you should still encourage your teen to talk to you by making yourself available, they will likely feel more comfortable opening up to their peers. Help your child form connections by enrolling them in extra curricular activities and giving them plenty of time to spend with their friends.
Provide a physical outlet
Physical activity is extremely beneficial to preventing depression because it is a natural mood elevator and provides a healthy outlet for emotions. A great way to foster peer support and participate in regular physical activity is to join a team sport. Encourage your teen to find a team sport that they like. If nothing speaks to them, there are a variety of other physical activities from which they can choose. Running, walking, martial arts, yoga, rock climbing, and swimming are all alternatives to team sports that your teen may enjoy.
Ensure good sleep hygiene
Getting enough quality sleep is integral to everyone’s well-being, but for fast-growing teens, it is particularly important for both their physical and mental health. A recent study showed that teens who went to bed at midnight or later were more likely to become depressed than those who went to bed at 10 p.m. Beyond instating a reasonable bedtime, encourage other good sleep habits, such as consistently having the same bedtime routine and ensuring that screen time is limited before bed.
Limit screen time
Speaking of screen time, there is some research to suggest that more screen time is correlated to depression. This may be because screens interfere with sleep, or that TV or computer games take time away from being active and hanging out with friends. It could also be due to the content. They could be constantly comparing themselves to unrealistic ideals based on characters in TV shows and movies, or they could be facing cyberbullying from social media. Exposure to graphic violence may also have an effect on their mental health. Regardless of the reason, be sure to limit the amount of screen time your teen has every day. One way you could do this is by having a rule against using cell phones or computers past a certain hour of the night, or have them keep their cell phone plugged in in a common area after they get home from school to prevent excessive screen time.
At Men’s Vitality Center in Tucson, we offer a variety of men’s health services to teen and adult men alike. Whether you are a teen or a parent of one, you can trust our men’s clinic to provide you with necessary health services in a comfortable and non-judgmental environment. Contact us today to learn more about our men’s health clinic.