Teen depression cannot always be prevented, but some things can help reduce the chances of an episode of depression in a teen who is at risk. Keep reading for information on teen depression prevention, and what you can do to help prevent teenage depression.
Some of the causes of depression in teenagers seem to be genetic, and those cannot be changed, but other triggers of teen depression can be avoided. Some of the risk factors for teen depression include:
- A family or personal history of depression
- A long-term illness or disability, whether physical or mental
- Experiencing a trauma or loss, including abuse, divorce of parents, death of a loved one, or a break-up
- Difficulties at home, at school, or with friends
If you are a teen who has suffered from depression, or who has other risk factors for teen depression, there are some things you can do to help prevent an episode of depression:
- Avoid drugs and alcohol – these can trigger depression.
- Associate with friends who have positive goals, such as going to college, and/or are involved in positive activities.
- Develop a good social support system with family members, teachers, and/or friends; some areas also have group therapy and support groups for people with depression and those who are at risk.
- Learn healthy ways to deal with choices, stress, and life changes.
- Get cognitive-behavioral therapy, which will help you to recognize if you have negative thought patterns and to change those patterns.
- Take any medication prescribed to you as directed; consult with a doctor before stopping medication or trying alternative medications.
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
- Get exercise, which helps manage stress and fight depression.
- Get enough sleep; it helps to keep a regular schedule, avoid having distractions in the bedroom (such as homework or television), and exercise earlier in the day, not close to when you go to sleep.
- Consider keeping a journal or finding other positive ways to deal with your emotions and notice any possible triggers for depression.
- Allow time for normal grieving after a loss, but if recovery does not occur, seek counseling.
- Avoid anything you know may trigger depression for you, including music, activities, people, or styles of dress and grooming that bring on feelings of depression.
- Get help if you suffer from any other disorders, such as eating disorders, learning disabilities, or substance abuse problems.
Though seasonal depression is most common in adults who live in higher latitudes, it can also affect teens. Teens can fight seasonal depression by spending a few minutes outside each day, especially during the winter months, staying active, and using light therapy.
If you know a teen who suffers from or is at risk for depression, you can help the teen by:
- Talking and listening to him or her
- Encouraging him or her to be involved in positive activities and to take good care of him or herself
- Being fair when dealing with or disciplining the teen
- Setting a good example by taking good care of yourself and getting help if you feel depressed or overwhelmed.
Teens who avoid depression triggers can often prevent or reduce episodes of depression. Teens who suffer from episodes of depression should talk to a doctor or therapist to treat their depression, especially if they have teen suicide thoughts.
Teen Depression Prevention Sources:
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Healthfinder, “Parental Control Affects Teen’s Depression” [online]
- WebMD.com, “Depression in Childhood and Adolescence” [online]
- WebMD/The Cleveland Clinic “Seasonal Depression” [online]