Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Supporting Distressed Teens

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The amount of stress experienced by teens is increasing. Whether it is the pressure they feel about school, living up to family expectations, traumatic events, or our troubled world, teens are distressed!

One manifestation of teen stress is depression, characterized by intense sadness, hopelessness, or despair that results from the inability to cope with stress. If you live with a teen, experiencing stress, there are things you can do to help:
  • Take them seriously - do not treat their concerns as insignificant
  • Remember that actions speak louder than words - be sincere, reach out, touch them, and show you care
  • Reach out early - tell them you are concerned
  • Spend time with them - even if they are not so fun to be with
  • Never say "don't worry" or "cheer up"
  • Pay attention to them - encourage & support them sharing positive or negative feelings
  • Tell them that you know they will work it out and that you will help
  • Encourage them to talk to an adult - pastor, doctor, counselor, parent
  • Listen and do not offer advice - ask what they are feeling (loss, fear, a threat, lack of control, failure, overwhelmed, despair)
Worry, distress, conflict, even short-term depression are healthy responses to loss, grief and the challenges of growing up. However, if the response is out of proportion, very intense, or lasts more than a couple of weeks, it is time to get professional help. talk to your doctor or arrange for a counselor to talk with your teen - do not wait until they have given up hope.

Photo credit: r.f.m II
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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