Teenage depression is a global concern. Picture: Liza Summer/Pexels
Teenage depression is a global concern. Picture: Liza Summer/Pexels

How parents can support their teens when they notice signs of depression

By Vuyolwethu Fundam Time of article published Jun 8, 2021

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Teenage depression is a global concern. Over the years, it has contributed to alarming suicide rates.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19.

In South Africa, The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) reported that suicide accounts for 9% of all teen deaths.

Because parents are unaware of how depression might show up and sometimes miss the signs, as the symptoms are often mistaken for being a phase that the child may be going through, experts say it is also possible for teenagers who are depressed to be oblivious of their condition. They may begin to label themselves as failures or unworthy people as a result of their experiences.

Depression in teens can show up in a variety of ways, including difficulties with concentrating at school, substance abuse, loss of interest in activities, irresponsible behaviour, low self-esteem, carelessness or social isolation.

According to experts, neglected mental illnesses can be dangerous. Keeping an eye out for these signs should be a primary concern for parents and guardians.

What can parents do to help when they notice these signs?

Listen attentively

Be patient and avoid passing judgement. Instead of rushing to talk your child out of depression, experts recommend acknowledging their feelings. That will encourage them to trust and open up to you.

Encourage social interaction

Studies show that depression may lead to social withdrawal. As a parent, you can begin spending more time with your children, encourage them to connect with their friends, or attend events with other families to expose them to new people.

Get moving

Suggest activities like jogging or hiking. According to studies, exercise reduces anxiety and depression, while also boosting self-esteem and cognitive performance.

Seek professional help

It's possible that supporting your child at home may not be enough. Experts recommend that you seek help if the symptoms are severe.

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