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  • Greg Smith

Julio Avael III Discusses How to Help a Teenager Dealing with Depression

Nearly 20 percent of all teams experience depression before they reach adulthood. While 10 to 15 percent of teenagers suffer from symptoms at any one time, regrettably, only 30 percent of depressed teens are treated for their symptoms. With suicide currently the third leading cause of teen death in the United States, it is now more critical than ever that teens are able to receive the necessary help from friends and loved ones. For many years, Julio Avael III has worked with American school districts to offer better mental health resources, and today, he hopes to share tangible steps parents can take to help their depressed teens.

Know the Symptoms of Depression

One of the first steps in helping a teenager struggling with depression is knowing the signs. While all individuals react differently to depression, there are a few well-known symptoms of depression that parents are encouraged to look out for. These symptoms include:

- Increased irritability and extreme mood swings

- Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy

- Change in sleeping habits; either increase or decrease in the number of hours spent sleeping

- Difficulty concentrating in class

- Feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty about things that aren’t their fault

- Increased or decreased appetite, change in eating patterns

- Avoiding social interaction with friends or family, spending an excessive amount of time within their room

Immediate Steps

If you believe that your child may be depressed, there are steps that you can take in the immediate to help improve their mental health. Some of the basics for good mental health include a healthy diet, sleep, exercise, and building positive connections. Parents are encouraged to build a structure within their teen’s life by cooking healthy foods, limiting screen time before bed, and encouraging physical activities with friends or family. Additionally, all objects within the home that may be harmful should be removed, including guns, knives, ropes, medicine, and alcohol. Those with depression often have poor self-esteem; it is important that parents encourage their teens to reduce stress and build confidence with creative activists and reassure them of his/her strengths.

Be Supportive

Julio Avael stresses that depression can often make even the most simple tasks monumentally difficult. In a typical child and parent relationship, parents will often punish their child for not cleaning a bedroom, finishing chores, or completing homework; however, a depressed teen may have difficulty completing these tasks to no fault of their own. Parents must remember that their teen is struggling with a mental illness that requires not only patients but empathy. If a child is experiencing depression, it is essential that parents be empathetic and encourage their children to share their thoughts and feelings. By discussing everyday problems with teens, parents can help break down tasks into smaller steps to succeed either with school or housework.

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