You probably already know this, but girls deal with a lot. Society leaves its mark on girls whether they are in their teens, tweens, or even younger. And by the time they are in their 20s and 30s, it is unlikely that many girls will feel that society is invested in what is best for them.
But whether or not this bleak outlook is true is immaterial. If you scale your perspective on reality up high enough, everything looks bleak. No one lives their life at that scale, however, and doing so will leave you depressed. Lots of people think that teenagers are immune to this.
They are not. A teenager can be victim of a bleak outlook as much as an adult can. In fact, depression can be worse in teenagers. They might be smart enough to see the obstacles in front of them, but not smart enough to see the ways those obstacles can be overcome.
What we are going to talk about today is how you can help your teenager daughter overcome the obstacles laid out by depression, because no one should have to deal with that alone.
Also known as “talk therapy”, this is the most well-known approach to handling depression. The best way to think of it is that you should probably take your daughter to therapy even if she seems relatively well-adjusted. Cars need mechanics and people need therapy.
Communicate with your daughter about this beforehand, however. If you don’t tell her that you are taking her to therapy as a matter of course, she might assume it is a matter of punishment.
Listen to Her
And while we are on the topic of communication, it is worthwhile to bring up one of the hardest and most important skills for a parent to have: The ability to listen.
If your daughter wants to criticize how you parent her, listen to her. You don’t have to completely compromise your parenting style to her preferences. But if you give her the time to listen to what she says, she is more likely to give you the time to listen to you explain yourself.
And who knows? Even if she doesn’t offer a practical solution to a problem, she might point out a problem that you might not have been aware of before.
Ask Specific Questions
All of that is assuming your daughter is communicating with you in the first place. One of the big issues with depression is that it is easy to hide, even when it is severe. Lots of parents will ask their children how their day is and get little no response.
The problem is not that your daughter doesn’t know how to express herself (although that is likely). The problem is that asking about her day is an extremely broad request. Instead, ask about specific things in her day. This might illuminate some problems she is facing.
Don’t be Afraid of Medication
People love to circulate horror stories about medications. “It made my child into a zombie,” or “It made them even more depressed.” Here is one thing that people don’t talk about enough: If you aren’t satisfied with the effects of a medication on your daughter, change the medication.
You don’t have to get it right the first time. If your daughter is struggling with depression, get her on medication and keep trying things until something works or you’re out of options.
Focus on the Physical Needs
One of the easiest ways a depressed person, of any age, can fall into a downward spiral with depression is by neglecting their physical needs. A lack of sleep, improper nutrition, and even forgetting to shower can all contribute to depression.
Your daughter will need to stand on her own and take care of her needs herself eventually. But you need to be sure to help build those habits while she is still young, or she will not find them easy to acclimate to later in life.
Even if that means waking her up early, carrying her to the table to eat her food, or placing her in the room with the shower. After a while, she will know what the process is, and you won’t need to be as forceful. Sleep is harder and may require extra physical activity to help that along.
Stay Physical with Her
This is one of the hardest methods for helping a teenage girl overcome depression, as it is the one that asks the most of you. Because physical fitness is so important to keeping one’s mental health balanced, you can do a lot to help your daughter with depression by exercising with her.
You might also get her onto a sports team of some kind, as that would relieve the burden from you. But you should assume that it will be your burden to carry, as there is no guarantee that she will like any sports or want to spend time with the people in any of them.
Explore what Makes her Happy Together
It is trivial to say that doing things that make her happy will help your daughter fight depression. But the big issue with that is that not everyone knows what makes them happy, especially in their teenage years. Society in general dictates much of what girls are allowed to do. As a result, your daughter might need more help than you think finding what makes her happy.
Explore different hobbies, sports, and past times with her. She will latch onto something eventually. You just have to be patient and enthusiastic for whatever you end up doing. And if she ends up not enjoying it, listen to her and adjust what you do together.
So much of what a parent needs to do essentially boils down to just being there for a person. Be there for your daughter in any way you can, whether that’s helping her find the good times or bringing her out of the bad times. And always be ready to listen.
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