Teen Depression- What we as Parents Can Do.

Christine Hackett Czar and Tonya Sanderson

Health and Wellness Specialist / Benefit Coordinator

Human Resources, Head Office 

The teenage years are filled with alot of changes. Family relationships need to adjust. The sweet, easy-going child you used to know is still there, but now also moody, confused, defiant, and prone to reckless behaviour and possibly excessive sleep. How do you as a parent deal with all of this?

Depression in Teenagers

Depression is a persistent mood disorder that often manifests itself when a person’s resiliency to cope with life events, is depleted. Parents should not underestimate the impact of what is going on in the world right now.

Typical signs of depression include but are not limited to;

  • excessive crying and sadness that persist for more than two weeks
  • loss of interest and motivation in activities they enjoyed previously
  • challenges in school that cause them to miss classes or receive poor grades
  • changes in weight or eating habits, skipping meals or eating more frequently
  • withdrawal and isolation
  • violence and/or aggression
  • suicidal ideation, perhaps talking or ‘joking’ about killing themselves

    If you suspect your child has depression, the first step is to reach out to your physician or pediatrician for an assessment.


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    What Can We Do as Parents?

    Accepting Reality – health problems with kids are difficult on parents, but mental health concerns can come loaded with stigma and unhelpful preconceived notions. If you deny the truth and assume your child will “snap out of it” , it will only invalidate their reality.

    Openly Communicate- your child must feel safe coming to you when their world feels dark. They need to know that you won’t get angry if you come to them with how you feel. Talking about mental health concerns is effective. I will say it again “talking about mental health concerns is effective”. A simple act of connecting with your teen will provide them with the support they require through depressive episodes.

    Screen Time and Bedtime – electronic devices have become a source of communication, entertainment and education.  Their use mimics addiction. There have been numerous studies done on this in the last decade.  They can become enablers for social isolation, poor sleep habits and unhealthy psychological behaviors.  Banning screen time will be counterproductive.  Instead, pick times that they can be on their device. Also devices at night can disrupt circadian rhythms and sleep, and should ideally be shut off at least one hour before ‘lights out’.

    Nourishing the Body – The gut is directly linked to the brain.  95% of serotonin is produced by gut bacteria. A healthy diet will play a role in your depressed teen’s recovery. Get them outside! Vitamin D will help with mood regulation.

    Some resources for you and your teen if they have been talking about suicide.

    Call 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free) or text CONNECT to 686868.

    Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566 (24/7).

    For residents of Québec, call 1 866 APPELLE (1.866.277.3553).

    Information taken from

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