Essential Tips for Parenting an Anxious or Depressed Teen

Around 20 percent of children and teens experience mental health struggles at some point in their adolescence. With such a high percentage of people affected, it’s easy to assume that parents will know how to deal with these struggles when they arise. However, many parents have a hard time even acknowledging that anxiety and depression are conditions that teens need help managing. There has been a tendency to view mental health as “all in the head” and not take it as seriously as physical health. However, parents can help their kids when a mental health issue is diagnosed; they just have to know how.

Accept That This is Real

Mental health struggles seem invisible to many people, and that makes them easier to ignore. The problem is that if parents can’t admit depression and anxiety are real ailments, just like cancer or the flu, then they won’t be able to parent their teens properly.

Over half of children with anxiety disorders and depression are not receiving treatment. Most parents can’t imagine denying treatment to a child who’s diagnosed with diabetes. However, many parents do avoid treatment for mental health ailments, and the consequences can be dire.

The fact that anxiety and depression are chronic conditions means teens who are left untreated are more likely to abuse illegal substances or withdraw from social events. Accepting that a depression or anxiety diagnosis is real is the first step to helping your teen manage the condition and live a full, happy life.

Teach Them Grounding Techniques

There are tools that teens can use to help them deal with depression and anxiety. These techniques help because they can be used at any time and help to calm the storm that rages when symptoms arise.

Some techniques include breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery. Mindfulness exercises and practices such as yoga help teens develop these skills so that they can easily grasp them when they need help.

Simply focusing on the practice of breathing can slow down an anxious mind and bring a teen back to the moment. A quick body scan that involves intentionally relaxing muscles up and down the body also triggers a calming response in the body. Guided imagery is simply using a visual, such as a teen imagining himself placing his worries on a tree branch before entering a peaceful garden to rest.

All of these techniques are simple but extremely effective in helping teens deal with depression and anxiety. Parents can model this behavior and guide their teens toward it as needed.

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