One of the most prevalent problems in teenagers today is that more and more of them are being diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Mental illness is a serious condition, and the support of family and friends is an extremely important factor that will truly help someone struggling with depression and anxiety.
If you’re wondering how to help someone with this kind of condition, here are 10 tips that will help teenagers overcome depression and anxiety.
1. Create plenty of opportunities to move
Sports, exercise and dance do not only help improve one’s fitness – they can also do a lot to uplift one’s mood. When you move, your body releases endorphins which are otherwise known as happy hormones. Have him sign up for the gym, or a simple invitation to go out and take a walk is already very helpful.
2. Get lots of sun exposure
Sunshine and sunlight aren’t connected to cheerfulness for anything. Research indicates that sun exposure can lift one’s serotonin levels – which is very much lacking in teens who have depression and anxiety. A nice picnic or a game of frisbee under the sun – or simply pulling away one’s bedroom curtains to let some sunshine in – will be very beneficial.
3. Establish a routine
Teens who are depressed and anxious can very easily spend the day doing nothing, which can leave them feeling even more depressed. Do your best to help them create and go through a daily routine so they feel useful and functional, which can lead to more satisfied feelings of self-worth.
4. Pay special attention to diet
Nutrition is a very important factor in battling depression and anxiety, so research on food items that will help uplift one’s mood and give more energy. Steer clear of junk food and caffeine that can contribute to either lethargy (hello, carbs!) or an even more elevated level of anxiety (we’re looking at you, soda!).
5. Explore herbal and natural remedies like Chinese herbs
Many teens diagnosed with depression and anxiety will likely be given a prescription, but if this is not the case in the teen you are concerned about then herbal and natural remedies such as Chinese herbs can greatly assist in lifting his mood, energy and attention. There are many Chinese herbs that can help with these, such as ginseng for example.
6. Regularize sleep patterns
Lack of sleep can really do a number on someone suffering from anxiety, and depressed teens find that good sleep is hard to come by. Encourage him to try and sleep early and at a regular time to establish a good sleep habit. Set up his bedroom so sleep will come more easily so his body will feel more rested and therefore in a better shape to tackle the day.
7. Balance social activities with alone time
Depressed or anxious teens often prefer to be alone, and this is something that you should respect. However, too much of this can be debilitating to his condition so make sure to balance it with social interaction. Look for consistent ways to interact with him so he will feel assured that others are there for him when he needs them.
8. Celebrate small wins
Depressed and anxious teens are very hard on themselves. This low self-esteem can cause them to overlook small wins in favor of sinking deeper into self-loathing. To combat this, point out the little gains that he’s made to make him feel that he’s moving towards improvement. If he makes it to school on time every day last week, that’s already something to commend him for.
If he does a load of laundry without being told to, say thanks for it. Small things like that can mean a lot to someone who feels like there is very little for him to offer.
9. Listen to empathize
Tread lightly and aim to listen without having to deliver a response, reproach, or reprimand afterward. Many times, depressed teens are just looking for someone to listen to them without necessarily asking for advice or suggestions. Your presence and empathy can help him feel like he is able to unload his troubles and make his burden feel a lot lighter.
10. Seek professional help
There might come a time when a professional will be needed to help address the problem, so be open to that and accompany him to a therapist or a psychiatrist. A medical professional will know how to best respond to him if the need for a neutral person who will not get too involved arises.
The Importance of Nixing Bad Habits
Aside from exercise, Chinese herbs, good sleep, and social interaction, it is important to eliminate some bad habits a teenager might have. These habits lead to depression and anxiety:
- Vices, smoking, drinking, and doing drugs are all bad for a troubled teen. While these habits lead to depression and anxiety, it can even amplify the condition if it is already there.
- Hanging out with peers who are not a good influence. Discourage interaction with peers who are highly critical of him and exercise peer pressure. These people contribute to his condition instead of helping to manage it.
For a lot of teens, depression and anxiety can very well accompany them as they transition from youth to adulthood. This is why it is important to apply strategies that will allow them to manage their condition even as teenagers. Your presence, these tips, and the determination to overcome depression and anxiety will do a lot to help a teenager better navigate his way through the murky waters of his mental health problems.