The teenage years are a time of change that challenges everyone. It’s easy to forget that they’re as hard for your teen as they are for you. After all, she is the one who is trying to navigate life’s challenges through a sea of raging hormones. You can give your child some space to work on himself, but stay vigilant and trust your gut. If you think something more than typical moodiness is going on, take action. Teens can and do sometimes battle depression, and it’s a serious condition. Here are some ways you can help.

Be Kind

It’s easy to find yourself banging heads with your teen but try to engage a depressed youngster carefully. You certainly shouldn’t allow or condone bad behavior and choices, but address these problems as logically and unemotionally as you can. Those suffering from depression often struggle with feelings of worthlessness. A poorly worded lecture from you in the heat of the moment may feel like proof of the shortcomings your teen already thinks she has. Try to correct issues constructively and make sure you praise your teen more than you correct him.

Encourage Engagement

People tend to isolate themselves and pull back when depressed, but this often makes the problem worse. Try to re-engage your teen by eating dinner as a family or volunteering together. If your teen once enjoyed sports, scouts or the drama club at school, get him involved in these activities again. Choose something that he enjoyed rather than forcing him into an activity he dislikes. Make sure you listen, however. If your teen’s depression stems from school bullying, for example, don’t force her into the same activities as the bully.

Stay Healthy

Doctors these days seem to recommend proper diet and exercise for every medical condition known to man, and depression is no different. Limit your teen’s screen time and encourage physical activity, even if it’s as simple as walking the dog. Provide a healthy diet full of healthy fats and protein. The sugars and starches teens tend to live on can make depression worse. Set a bedtime too. Your teen will roll her eyes at that, but teenagers need nine to 10 hours of sleep a night.

Get Help

Depression is a crippling condition with potentially serious complications, including suicide. Get help from your teen’s doctor and, if necessary, consider utilizing a depression treatment center like Lifeline Behavioral Health. Just like asthma or diabetes, depression is a serious medical condition that often requires medical intervention and treatment. Treating it as such is not an overreaction.

As a parent, you’ll do anything you can to fix the problem when your child is hurting. Unfortunately, she will reach an age where a band-aid and a hug just won’t solve the problem anymore. These tips will help you help your teen now that life’s problems are a little bigger.