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.

Promote good sleep

A good night's sleep can help your child feel his or her best, both physically and emotionally.

In a recent study, teens whose parents enforced a bedtime of 10 p.m. or earlier were significantly less likely to become depressed than were teens who went to bed at midnight or later.

In addition to a consistent bedtime, also consider other principles of good sleep — such as following a consistent bedtime routine and limiting screen time just before bed.

Also keep in mind that the relationship between sleep and depression goes both ways. Lack of sleep might boost the risk of depression — and depression itself can make it harder to sleep.

Consider mental health therapy

Family-based depression prevention programs — often using a type of psychotherapy known as cognitive behavioral therapy — can be helpful, especially when there's a family history of depression.

During therapy, a mental health provider might help you and your child:

  • Learn about depression
  • Develop skills to handle stress in a positive way
  • Communicate with each other more effectively
  • Understand the effect that stress and depression can have on a person's life

Consult a mental health provider about the options and what might work best for your child.

Sep. 15, 2012 See more In-depth