Talking to your teenager about depression can be difficult. As they go through major changes (physical, emotional, hormonal, social, etc.) during those adolescent years, it’s all too easy for a dark cloud of depression to swirl overhead.
While it’s important to address issues head-on, listen to your teenager’s problems, and offer support, it’s equally important to suggest real, practical things that your teenager can do to start feeling better. Luckily, there are number of natural things your child can do that can help:
- Get regular exercise: Simply put, science has shown that a regular exercise program can help treat mild and moderate depression and can even assist in severe depression.
- Use art as a tool for self expression: Painting, writing, playing an instrument, or virtually any other art form can be soothing and therapeutic for the right person. It’s the chance to express oneself and to get in touch with the emotions that could be trapped inside. When your teenager is depressed, often times, there are pent-up emotions that aren’t being expressed or are expressed in the wrong setting. Immersing your teenager in art can help him or her deal with those emotions in a constructive way.
- Eat well: Similar to exercise, a healthy body helps support a healthy mind. One way to encourage a healthy body is exercise. The other main way is with one’s diet. Alcohol, caffeine, and junk food are typically bad for one’s mood — while foods rich in B12 and folate (beetroot, spinach, chicken fish), vitamin D (juice, milk), and selenium (cod, Brazil nuts, walnuts), and omega-3 fatty acids (cod, salmon, haddock) tend to help mood disorders and depression.
- Pick up a book: While it’s easy to feel alone when you’re suffering from depression, entering the rich world of a novel can help keep your teenager company. Also, depending on what your teenager reads, it can teach him or her positive behaviors to model in his or her own life. It can also have more stimulating and healthy effects on their mind than watching tv and surfing the internet.
- Develop new and existing hobbies: A hobby is a beautiful thing. It’s not a job, so there isn’t the stress of trying to monetize it. Frequently, it’s not competitive, so there isn’t the anxiety of winning. A hobby is just something you like to do for no good reason. By doing what you love for its own sake, you can take your mind off your problems — even if it’s just an hour or two.
As difficult as it might be, make an effort to suggest some of these activities — and why not do some of them yourself? Your teenager needs a positive role model, and your participation could go a long way to help your child climb out of the darkness and into the light. You’re going to make mistakes, but consistent effort is the best way forward.