How to Help your Teenage Daughter with Depression?
The teenage years are known for being an awkward, challenging time filled with blossoming feelings, social pressure, and increased academic demands. Teens have a bad rap for being a bit moody, but recent statistics demonstrate that there’s a much more serious issue brewing than a little teenage angst. Depression is on the rise among teens—especially Black youth.
Approximately 11 percent of teenagers experience depression in any given year. In girls, that number jumps to 17 percent. Untreated depression can have lethal consequences, as demonstrated by the fact that suicide is the second leading cause of death in youth ages 10 to 19 years. One racial group, in particular, seems to be the hardest hit. The suicide death rate among Black youth is increasing faster than any other racial/ethnic group. It rose from 2.55 per 100,000 in 2007 to 4.82 per 100,000 in 2017—almost double. From looking at the research as a whole, it’s clear that Black girls specifically are at a significantly higher risk of depression than their peers.
With a clear depression crisis amongst today’s Black girls, I feel it’s of the utmost importance to share with you how to recognize depression in your teenage daughter and how to help them through it. If your daughter is struggling, don’t lose hope—there are many ways to support her and see that she regains her joyful spirit.
Symptoms of depression in Black girls
The symptoms of depression in Black girls are often different than those seen in depressed adults. It’s important to be mindful of your daughter’s behavior so you can recognize the signs of depression when you see them:
· Anger and irritability
· Declining grades
· Difficulty concentrating
· Losing interest in things they used to enjoy
· Negative self talk
· Sleeping too much or not enough
· Physical complaints (recurrent muscle aches, stomach aches, headaches, etc.)
· Talk of death or suicide
· Withdrawal from friends and family
· Experiencing Racial Trauma
How can you best support your daughter dealing with depression?
If you suspect that your daughter might be depressed, follow these five tips to best support her and get her the help she needs:
1. Talk to her about it. It’s important to talk to your daughter about how she feels. Let her know that you’re there for her and available to help in any way you can. She may or may not open up to you, but at least she’ll know that you’ll be there if she needs you. Consistent communication is key. Far too often, Black girls don't feel like they are receiving full support from their loved ones to disclose their symptoms.
2. Educate yourself. If you’ve never dealt with depression yourself or don’t know much about it, it’s crucial to educate yourself on the subject so you can have a better idea of what your teen is going through. You can also use what you learn to explain depression and treatment options to your teen in an age-appropriate way.
3. Take your daughter to the doctor for a check-up. It’s important to rule out any physical causes for depression, such as low Vitamin D. A complete physical with blood work is a good place to start.
4. Encourage healthy habits. Mental health and physical health are closely related—one can affect the other. Prepare healthy meals for your daughter and encourage her to get some daily exercise. Healthy daily habits can go a long way in improving depression.
5. Have your daughter meet with a therapist. Seek out a therapist that specializes in teens and depression. They can meet with your daughter individually, offering her a non-judgmental ear and tailored advice to support her recovery.
Seek help for your teen
If your daughter is struggling with depression, know that you’re not alone. There are several paths to recovery and countless resources available to you and your teen. With your support and proper treatment, your daughter will learn to empower herself, break through the chains of depression that are holding her back, and regain her zest for life.