It is not easy to be a teen in the 21st Century. I’m sorry to tell you that teenage depression is an epidemic in our world today. Homeschooled teens are not immune.
Teens can be Depressed for a Variety of Reasons:
- Lack of sleep
- Abuse (Sexual, Physical, Emotional)
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Excessive Anger/Conflict in Home
- Political Conflict & Uncertainty
- Loss of a Friend
- Low Self-Worth
Grief is Not Depression
Grief is a natural reaction to bad news, death, loss, divorce, or illness. Grief fits the loss and subsides gradually. Grief often occurs in waves that are triggered by thoughts and memories of the loss.
Symptoms of Depression
- Irritability, Anger, Hostility
- Frequent crying
- Withdrawal from some, not all, people
- Loss of interest in activities
- Living online rather than in the real world
- Schoolwork suffers
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Extreme sensitivity to criticism
- Fatigue, Lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of worthlessness
When Teens Talk to You About Depression
Stop what you are doing. Give them undivided attention.
Let them know how much you love them and how sorry you are that they are hurting.
Show them this balance. On the one hand, many people struggle with depression so they are not some kind of freak. On the other hand, their own struggle is unique. Don’t downplay their feelings.
Offer hope in Jesus.
If they can’t talk to you, point them to a godly, wise adult who is willing to talk lovingly with your teen.
A pastor, teen pastor, counselor, friend, or relative can help you walk through this time. Parents of teens with depression need support, too.
Don’t take talk or plans of suicide lightly–take them to a Christian counselor who deals with suicidal thoughts.
Remind them often of the grace of God. They are still lavishly loved even if they are struggling. (See I John 3:1-2).
1-Credit High School Life Skills Courses for Young Women–Introduce them to Christ!
Help Teens Battle Depression
Set the entire family up for success:
- Eat healthy
- Get plenty of sleep
- Uplifting communication in the home
- Wholesome entertainment
Let the entire family look to Jesus, the Healer of broken hearts. Read the Bible devotionally, hearing God’s love. Let the teen pray as they are able.
See if there are real needs. If a teens is lonely, work to provide opportunities for wholesome friendships. If a teen is bored, give them projects to do or get them involved in learning something new (music lessons, sports, dance lessons)
The Battle for the Mind
depression is based on lies that teens believe.
Emotions flow from our thoughts and beliefs. Thoughts can lead to negative emotions and all the way to depression. If teens are believing lies like “God doesn’t love me” or “I’m worthless” or “My family doesn’t love me” or “God can never forgive me” or “The world can offer me joy”, they will find themselves experiencing emotions like anger, sadness, etc.
Speak truth to one another in your home:
- You are valuable to me!
- I love you.
- You are smart. You are beautiful. You are fun to be with.
Learn to take thoughts captive that do not line up with the Word of God. For example, if a teen feels that his/her future is hopeless–that is a lie. The truth is found in many places including Jeremiah 29:9-11. God has good plans for us.
Learning to take thoughts captive does not mean that you use the the Word of God to make teens feel stupid or “bad”. Lovingly reveal the amazing grace and mercy of God! It is only God who can heal broken hearts. I created Bible studies for my daughters and my husband for my son so they could grow closer to the Lord and know Truth.
1-Credit High School Life Skills Classes for Teenage Guys–Introduce them to Christ!
When to Get Help
If any of the following are involved, it’s time to get help!
- Depression lasts for more than 2 weeks
- Depression interferes with ability to do schoolwork, work a job, minister in church, or interact socially
- Teen is considering suicide
Warnings of Suicide
- Talking or joking about suicide
- Saying things like “I’d be better off dead”
- Writing stories/songs about death, suicide, or dying
- Painting/creating art about death, suicide, or dying
- Engaging in reckless behavior
- Giving away prized possessions
- Romanticizing death
- Getting ahold of weapons, pills, or other potentially death-inducing things
If you suspect your teen is suicidal, take IMMEDIATE ACTION!
God is good. He can help you help your teen and provide others who will walk alongside you. With Covid-19 lockdowns, depression and suicide have become a much greater problem than ever before. Sometimes our teens can be depressed and we are so busy taking care of our other children and homeschooling that we don’t even notice. I have given you tools to recognize depression and I’m praying that we can help all of our teens experience joy in their lives because they are so loved by us and even more loved by their Heavenly Father.
Until next time, God bless you!