Teenage depression: Prevention begins with parental support
Teenage depression can affect nearly every aspect of your child's life. Understand what you can do to help prevent teenage depression, including possible mental health therapy.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Teenage depression is a serious health concern that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities. Although there's no sure way to prevent teenage depression, these strategies might help.
Offer unconditional support
A strong parent-child relationship can help prevent depression. To build — or maintain — a positive relationship with your child:
- Set aside time each day to talk
- Encourage your child to express his or her feelings
- Praise his or her strengths, whether it's in academics, music, athletics, relationships or other areas
- Offer positive feedback when you notice positive behavior
- Respond to your child's anger with calm reassurance rather than aggression
If your child is reluctant to talk, spend time in the same room. Even if you're not talking, a caring attitude can speak volumes.
Foster friendship and social support
Positive peer experiences and strong friendships can help prevent depression. Encourage your child to spend time with supportive friends. Playing team sports or taking part in other organized activities might help by boosting your child's self-esteem and increasing his or her social support network.
At the same time, be alert to the possible issues associated with early dating. Even typical romantic experiences, such as flirting and dating, can be challenging for teens — and might contribute to symptoms of depression.
Encourage physical activity
Regular physical activity — regardless of the level of intensity — might play a role in reducing teenage depression and anxiety.
For adolescents, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends one hour or more of physical activity a day. This includes aerobic activities — such as running, swimming, walking and jumping rope — and muscle-strengthening activities, such as climbing a rock wall or lifting weights.
Sept. 03, 2015
See more In-depth
- Merry SN, et al. Psychological and educational interventions for preventing depression in children and adolescents. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD003380.pub3/abstract. Accessed July 17, 2015.
- Biddle SJH, et al. Physical activity and mental health in children and adolescents: A review of reviews. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2011;45:886.
- Gladstone TRG, et al. The prevention of adolescent depression. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 2011;34:35.
- Primack BA, et al. Using ecological momentary assessment to determine media use by individuals with and without major depressive disorder. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. 2011;165:360.
- Gangwisch JE, et al. Earlier parental set bedtimes as a protective factor against depression and suicidal ideation. Sleep. 2010;33:97.
- Davila J, et al. Romantic and sexual activities, parent-adolescent stress, and depressive symptoms among early adolescent girls. Journal of Adolescence. 2009;32:909.
- 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/default.aspx. Accessed July 17, 2015.
- Mason MJ, et al. Adolescents' social environment and depression: Social networks, extracurricular activity and family relationship influences. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings. 2009;16:346.
- Schwartz OS, et al. Emotion socialization within the family environment and adolescent depression. Clinical Psychology Review. 2010;32:447.
- Maras D, et al. Screen time is associated with depression and anxiety in Canadian youth. Preventive Medicine. 2015;73:133.
- Hoecker JL. Adolescent sleep deprivation. Indian Pediatrics. 2008;45:181.
- A family guide: What families need to know about adolescent depression. http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=Child_and_Adolescent_Action_Center&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=24806. Accessed July 17, 2015.
- The depressed child. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. https://www.aacap.org/aacap/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/Facts_for_Families_Pages/The_Depressed_Child_04.aspx. Accessed July 17, 2015.