Attn parents: what to do if you’re worried about your son being depressed or anxious

Attn parents: what to do if you’re worried about your son being depressed or anxious

via Psychology Today by Lee Bare

“Mom, I’m depressed.” No parent wants to hear those three words. And if they do, they may be caught off guard. Parents of teenagers I have worked with, especially parents of teenage boys, have often remarked that they did not know anything was wrong. While rates of depression are higher in teenage girls than in teenage boys, there tends to be more focus on talking with girls, which can help parents recognize early signs of depression. Boys, however, may be less likely to talk about their feelings, so when they do, it can be scary and surprising for parents. How you respond, as a parent, can help alleviate some of the fear that your son may have about opening up. As a psychologist and a mom of teenage boys, here are five suggestions for parents who learn their son is depressed.

Pixabay for Pexels

Source: Pixabay for Pexels

1. Listen to what he is saying.

It is difficult for us, as parents, to hear that our kids are hurting. We have a natural tendency to try to fix problems for them or at least help them feel better. We learn, over time, to not overreact to every little thing. For cuts and scrapes, it is easy to clean it up and put on a band-aid. But when your son reaches out and says he feels depressed, it is important to stop, take a breath, and really hear him, without minimizing his experience. He’s opened the dialogue, so do what you can to keep it open. 

2. Find a therapist.

Talking about mental health is difficult for many. Talking about our kids’ mental health is especially difficult. You want to protect your son and not share all of his secrets, but being okay with asking for referrals can also help normalize mental health and reduce the stigma surrounding depression. How do you find a therapist? One of the best ways is to ask your friends or those close to you. When your son tells you he is depressed, finding a therapist who is a good fit for your son can give him support and perspective…

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