Skip to content

    Health & Parenting

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    How Would You Help a Depressed Teen?

    WebMD community members give advice to a worried father.

    WebMD Feature

    When a worried father asked for advice about his son, who appeared to be depressed, a number of WebMD community members had advice. WebMD also asked child development expert David Elkind, PhD, for his opinion.

    Q. My 15-year-old son's friend recently killed himself, and my son is showing signs of depression. He won't talk to us. Does anyone have any advice to get a child to agree to see a therapist?-teenagerdad

    Answer #1: I'm a teen and have lost three friends in the last year. There was a time when I refused to go into therapy because I didn't want to talk to a complete stranger. Eventually I saw the school social worker and my guidance counselor. Since they knew the situation, it made taking the first step toward getting help easier. Let your son know that things will get better, as awful as it seems now.-srgrl08

    Answer #2: When the same thing happened to my daughter, I didn't pressure her. I just supported her. I went to the funeral with her, took her friends with us, and made myself available to her and her friends for whatever meetings they needed together. Maybe your son needs to have that silent support along his journey.-Cindy0516

    Answer #3: Be sure to provide an open and nonjudgmental environment for him, otherwise he will turn against you. You also may want to speak with a therapist who specializes in grief counseling for advice.-FargoLIT

    Elkind's Advice

    I don't think you need to rush to a therapist yet. Your son may just feel down because he thinks he's to blame -- a normal, human reaction. Ask him, and if that's true, you can say, "We think we should have seen the signs and gotten him help, but it's really hard to know what's going on in someone else's head. We can't blame ourselves for not seeing what's not easily visible." If your son has been a happy, healthy teenager up to this point, it's unlikely he's developed severe emotional problems. But move to counseling if his behavior toward his friends and family -- and even pets -- changes, as well as if his sleeping and eating habits become abnormal. And if he starts talking about wanting to commit suicide, get him to a doctor immediately.

    Want to get more practical advice from parents of teens? Log on to our Parenting Pre-Teens and Teenagers community board.

    Reviewed on September 12, 2008

    Today on WebMD

    Girl holding up card with BMI written
    Is your child at a healthy weight?
    toddler climbing
    What happens in your child’s second year.
     
    father and son with laundry basket
    Get your kids to help around the house.
    boy frowning at brocolli
    Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
     
    mother and daughter talking
    Tool
    child brushing his teeth
    Slideshow
     
    Sipping hot tea
    Article
    boy drinking from cereal bowl
    Article
     
    hand holding a cell phone
    Article
    rl with friends
    fitSlideshow
     
    girl being bullied
    Article
    Child with adhd
    Slideshow