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Parenting a teenager comes with many ups and downs. Your teenager is beginning to live life with more independence and freedom. School work and social lives can be demanding and time consuming. During this period, depression can be common. In fact, approximately 20 percent of teens experience depression before they reach adulthood, and between 10 to 15 percent suffer from symptoms at any one time.

It’s not always easy to tell the difference between the normal mood swings of the teenage years and symptoms of depression. It is very important to talk with your teen to determine if they are resilient enough to manage the complex feelings they may be experiencing.

If you suspect your teen may be struggling with depression, try to build empathy and understanding. This is a great opportunity to strengthen your relationship. If your child is not interested in some of the activities he or she once enjoyed, try suggesting some new ones. Offer to take them out for a meal, or even to run errands. Seize every opportunity to offer your support and conversation.

Learn all you can about depression. The more you know, the better you will be able to help your child. Ask gentle and compassionate questions about how your child is feeling. Be clear that you are not trying to fix them, but instead making an attempt to understand. Try your best to remove judgement (even if you disagree) and build trust. This way, your child will be more likely to reach out to you when he or she is in pain. At that time, it will be important that you are ready with helpful information and advice.

Depression will not disappear overnight but it can be successfully treated. In fact, with the proper treatment and parental support, more than 80 percent of those who struggle with depression will recover. It is important to realize depression is a disease and that your child is not making a choice to feel this way.

If the depression symptoms continue and begin to interfere with your child’s life, it is time to seek professional treatment. Research therapists in your area and try to find one who will be a good fit for your child. Consider finding a couple of options for therapists and give your child the chance to choose. This allows your teen to feel invested in his or her treatment and can make them feel more comfortable. It is up to the parent to ensure that the teen attends each appointment and takes medication, if prescribed.

With the proper support and treatment, teenagers can overcome depression. Parents play an irreplaceable role in recognizing symptoms, offering empathy, and encouraging treatment. Be your child’s advocate and supporter during the ups and downs of the teenage years.