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. Also consider other principles of good sleep — such as following a consistent bedtime routine and limiting screen time just before bed.

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.

Monitor screen time

Some studies suggest a connection between screen time and depression. It's possible that screen time could have a negative effect by interfering with sleep or taking up time your teen could be spending with friends and being active.

However, content could also play a role. Use of the Internet and social networking sites could expose your teen to cyberbullying. Movies and TV shows that feature idealized characters and situations could cause your teen to gauge himself or herself against an impossible ideal. Repeated exposure to negative or violent content might aggravate feelings of depression, perhaps by promoting a negative or fearful view of the world.

On the flip side, some research suggests that reading during adolescence might have the opposite effect — perhaps offering a buffer against depression.

Get treatment early

Seek help at the earliest sign of a problem to help prevent depression from worsening. Maintain ongoing treatment, if recommended, even after symptoms let up, or have regular therapy sessions to help prevent a relapse of depression symptoms.

Family-based depression prevention programs — often using a type of psychotherapy known as cognitive behavioral therapy — can help, 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.

Sept. 03, 2015 See more In-depth