How to Help a Family Member with Depression

Depression, Family Treatment, Mental Health | 0 comments

Everyone experiences mental health struggles in their own way. Because of this, it may be hard to recognize signs of depression, even in close family members. With adolescents, it can be especially difficult. Parents are not able to see how their child acts or recognize how they feel when they are at school or extracurricular activities. Even in a school setting, teens may not express their feelings of depression to others. 

If you suspect that someone you love is suffering from depression, there are options for fostering a strong support system. While those suffering from depression may require help from a mental health professional, finding ways to help at home can improve a teen’s chances of healing. 

Recognize the Triggers of Teen Depression

Teenage years are crucial developmental years in a person’s life. During this time, they undergo many changes and stresses that could impact their mental health. The need for academic success, fitting in with peers, finding extracurricular activities or sports, and even physical growth all happen to teens in a very short amount of time. It is also a time for many “firsts” in a person’s life from getting a driver’s license to a first job. During this time, teens also experience major milestones such as an 18th birthday, graduation, getting into college, or going to prom. 

Because of all the changes happening in a teenager’s life, it can be hard to determine what triggers impact their feelings of depression. Providing a safe and supportive environment encourages your teen to open up about their feelings. Ensure that you are an active listener when they express their emotions, allowing them to feel comfortable seeking help. 

Fostering a strong relationship with a teen suffering from depression also allows you to stay on top of all the major changes in their life. You may be able to recognize patterns in changing behavior or a drop in academic performance that may signify or trigger feelings of depression. These are much easier to recognize when you continue to offer you teen a safe space to communicate with you, although this can be challenging. 

Create a Supportive Environment for Conversation

Communication is a key indicator that allows you to understand when your teen needs help from a mental health professional. Not every teen will openly express feelings of depression. Oftentimes, it is hard to recognize those emotions, as they remain hidden. Having a safe, non-judgmental place where a teen can choose to convey their feelings allows them to gradually grow more comfortable to do so. A supportive environment is one that approaches a teen’s mental health delicately, without adding negative input or trying to “resolve” their emotions. If a teen openly expresses their emotions in conversation, it provides an ample opportunity to determine whether a mental health professional should be involved. You can also take the opportunity to encourage them to see help from a depression treatment program and support them in doing so.  

Attend Family Therapy

Oftentimes, depression treatment programs will offer opportunities to partake in family therapy sessions. On a teen’s journey to healing and recovery, they need a strong support system to help. Family therapy gives families the opportunity to learn how they can support someone as they seek treatment for depression. Through these therapy sessions, families discover resources available to them and their loved ones, how to support someone through treatment, and how to foster a stronger relationship that allows a teen to feel supported on their journey to healing. 

Find a Depression Treatment Program

There are plenty of resources for treating depression in Massachusetts. 

For emergency help, and for teens in major depressive episodes, Massachusetts offers a Behavioral Health Helpline by calling or texting 833-773-2445. This helpline is open 24/7, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, whenever someone needs to speak with someone about the need for mental health treatment. 

Residential and outpatient programs allow teens to seek extensive treatment for their depression. Both types of programs allow teens to seek help from mental health professionals through personalized programs. When choosing a depression treatment program, research Joint Commission Accredited treatment centers that service your area of Massachusetts. A Joint Commission Accredited treatment center offers reputable programs that adhere to strict levels of quality improvement and patient safety. 

Encourage Peer Support

One concern over seeking depression treatment while still attending grade school is taking them away from a social atmosphere. You do not want your teen to feel left out because they are on their journey to healing. Through an outpatient treatment program, adolescents are able to seek treatment while still attending school, unlike a residential program. This is ideal for teens suffering from depression who do not require round-the-clock supervision. It allows them to remain in contact with their peers throughout the week, establishing a sense of normalcy while in treatment.

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