The teen years can sometimes be such an angst-ridden time.
To begin with, there is a myriad of physical changes, which can, in turn, cause some pretty strong emotions.
Teen depression is a reality and when not addressed and treated properly, it can escalate and be carried on to adulthood. The adult may cause harm to himself or herself.
Although there are no sure ways to prevent teenage depression, the Mayo Clinic suggests strategies parents can apply. The most potent deterrent to teenage depression is to foster a strong parent-child relationship, where unconditional support is given. While it is best to establish the roots in childhood, it’s never too late to begin.
How does one build stronger bonds in the teen years? I’ve always believed in spending quality time with each child. Whether you have two or six children, it’s important that each child is made to feel important. Find out what excites your child, and what concerns him or her.
Recognize achievements, whether in the academic, sports or extracurricular activities. When you notice a positive behavior, be quick to offer positive feedback and affirm. A child can never have enough of positive affirmation as long as it is real and sincere.
When your child is angry, give him or her space. When you feel your own temper rising, step back, take a walk around the block, lock yourself in the bathroom if you must let off steam. Always be careful with your words because once they are spoken, you can never take back the painful feeling that come with them. In Tagalog, nakatatak na iyan sa puso.
Time with friends
Second, encourage friendships, and not just on the social network.
Spending time with friends, so long as it is not excessive and does not hamper school work or eat into family time, is always good. Sports, especially team sports, builds a child’s self-esteem and widens his/her social support.
Get to know your teenager’s friends. The search for identity is crucial, and parents must guide, not hover. Make the child feel that he or she can ask you questions without fear that he/she is being judged.
Boy-girl relationships must also be keenly observed because they can trigger depression especially in the teenager who tends to have intense emotions.
The teenager with poor coping skills and a weak support system may tend to feel like it’s the end of the world.
The importance of a good night’s sleep can never be underestimated. A good eight hours of sleep can help your teen feel his best not just physically but emotionally as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, a recent study showed that teens whose parents enforced a bedtime of 10 p.m. or earlier were significantly less likely to become depressed than those who went to bed at midnight or later.
Winding down, quitting Internet use a full hour before bedtime is a good habit. Bear in mind the connection between sleep and depression—lack of sleep may increase the risk of depression, and depression can hamper sleep. It’s a vicious cycle so parents must monitor their child’s sleep patterns; if something seems amiss, it will be easier to address.
Seeking professional help is important. If you feel or sense that your child is going through a difficult time but refuses to open up to you, you may seek the counsel or advice of a trained professional. The professional will be able to spot it better than you. A counselor, psychologist or a pediatrician or psychiatrist specializing in adolescent medicine can teach you and your child to communicate better and explain to you what depression is.
Anton Osmeña was a bright young man who succumbed to depression and took his life a few months back. Following this loss, his family (led by his uncle) and friends have put up a highly informative website to commemorate his death, to celebrate his life, and, more important, to provide information and help to suicide survivors and their families. “…we hope that potential suicides may come across this website and see that although you may feel like you are alone, there is so much love around you. May you find articles in here that may help you choose life.”
The site has helpful articles, videos and links to sites that tackle depression and suicide. It also contains a listing of suicide hotlines in the Philippines. Visit http://antonosmena.mapuafamily.com.
Follow the author on Twitter @cathybabao; visit www.storiesbykate.wordpress.com.