When your teen suffers from depression
Coming to terms
Each year about 13% of teens experience depression. As parents, it is easy to read the statistics and quickly see them as nothing more than a tragedy that is happening to other families. Perhaps you have noticed the moodiness, sudden lack of interest in activities, or changes in eating habits. Some may dismiss these behaviors as part of the growing pains we all experience as teens, though they are all in fact signs of depression.
Transitioning from reading the statistics to joining that number can be difficult to accept for many parents. The tornado of thoughts and concerns that go through a parent's mind can be overwhelming. Not only are there concerns about the present but also concerns for your teen's future. Before you drown yourself in tears of blame, regret, and worry. You should take the time to educate yourself. Ask your doctor for information on teen depression and ways to get support. Talk to your Pastor and people you trust. Best of all, take it to the Lord in prayer. This didn't catch Him by surprise and once you know that you and your teen are not alone in this, you will begin to come to terms with it.
What you can be
As the person who has been there for all the bumps and bruises of your child's life, your first instinct may be to figure out what you can do to fix the situation. Stephen R. Covey, the author of the book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote, "If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control, myself." You must first make peace with the fact that you have no control over your teen's depression. So instead of focusing on what you can do, focus on what you can be. You can be a better listener. You can be more proactive. You can be kinder and more attentive. Make a list of all the things you can be for your teen. In the meantime, show them that you are trying to understand. No, this will not cure your teen's depression but it will help to build trust between parent and teen.
The small victories count
Depending on the severity of your teen's depression, you may have already been through the wringer. Hospital visits, medications, hiding the knives and sharp objects in the house to keep them from hurting themselves, etc. It may feel like the most impossible situation but you can make it. The first step is identifying the problem and then seeking help. Every step you take with your teen is a step toward better. Don't weigh yourself down with worries about tomorrow, Matthew 6:34 NLT says .... Today's trouble is enough for today. Celebrate the small victories you and your teen make each day. There are no throw-away victories in a fight as important as this.