The fall and winter holiday season can be one of festivity, cheer, and comfort. But it also often brings along changes in routine, stress, and relational strife. Family conflicts often fall into sharper focus around the holidays, and the social politics of holiday gatherings can be a real challenge. Combining that potential holiday tumult with the difficulties of being a teenager—from hormones to social pressures to shifting roles in life and in family—can escalate depression in teens who already struggle.
As the holiday season sheds light on these underlying contributors to depression, offering support to the teen girl in your life to help her/them cope can make a tremendous difference in her/their wellbeing. Individual and group therapy provided as a central feature of our intensive outpatient program can help teen girls and femmes who struggle with depression. Keep reading to lean more about how to help your depressed teen.
Wondering how to help your depressed teen this holiday season?
You know all too well that depression isn’t simply sadness, especially in teens. Depression is irritability, numbness, insomnia, and eating changes. Depression is loss of interest in things that your teen once enjoyed, like holiday celebrations and time with family, and a withdrawal from those around them. Depression, at its worst—its hardest to bear—can be suicidal thoughts and self-harm.
You may have struggled with your teen already about how to help her/their depression, bringing you into conflict and driving you further apart. There is a way forward for you both. Starting mental health treatment for depression can open doors for your teen, into understanding theirself better and into a world where depression holds far less influence over your daughter’s wellbeing.
Depression treatment for teens: DBT can help
One of the most effective therapeutic treatments for teen depression is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT. DBT is an intensive therapeutic program that integrates individual therapy, group therapy, and skills practice that encompasses four main arenas in life: emotional regulation, mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance.
DBT works particularly well for depression because it asks your teen to identify their emotions, monitor reactions, and sit mindfully in a way that offers real change from the crushing weight of depression. It offers group support as well as individual support, drawing your teen out of her/their shell with peers who know exactly how they feel, and what they’re going through. It gives structure to lean on in times of distress, and skills to bring home to work on with you.
DBT offers a collaborative therapeutic space, involving the whole family in different ways. It draws people together, asking your teen, and yourself, to consider “middle path” thinking, where things aren’t so black and white. It offers practice in more balanced, dialectical thinking; two opposing ideas can be combined, and can be true at the same time. Holding on to a more nuanced mindset can bring peace.
Prioritize depression treatment during the holidays
One of the best ways you can be there for your teen during the holidays is to support her/their work in depression treatment. Make sure she/they show up, and make sure her/their treatment is a priority. Actively listen to what your teen shares with you, and enact DBT skills in your home when you and your teen are introduced to them.
Look at your family traditions; where can you offer relief from pressure through DBT skills? Where can you integrate skills like interpersonal effectiveness into family gatherings? Adding in the care and consideration toward your teen’s mental health in holiday planning can make a huge difference.
Helping a depressed teen cope with the holidays
Teens are developing as people, and can benefit from mental health support that includes variety, so they can grow in multiple ways. Alongside enrolling her/them in a depression treatment program, you can do other things to help your teen feel supported and heard this holiday season.
Consider smaller, simpler celebrations:
Large celebrations mean large expectations and large emotions. A smaller, simpler celebration can be a way to include your teen without overwhelming anyone.
Continue activities that are not holiday related:
Do you have regular activities that fall by the wayside when the holiday season starts up? Commit to continuing your family routine as much as you can, even if your teen is reluctant to take part. Consistency can help with internal stability for a teen with depression.
Offer choices for participation:
Feeling forced into good cheer and fun can feel specifically un-fun, especially when depression is gnawing at your teen’s mental health. Let her/them know they’re welcome, and wanted, but has choices in how she/they participate this year.
Ask your teen what they want:
Teens are developing into adults, and it can be hard to feel like a growing ability to be responsible isn’t respected. Does your teen have a way she/they want to celebrate, or a new tradition they’d like to start? Go for it, as a family.
Be patient, with yourself and your teen:
It can be tough on you and on your teen when they’re struggling with depression. Emotions can run high, so when there are clashes, or when your teen withdraws, try to not despair. Patience and grace are the best gifts you can offer yourself, and your teen this holiday season.
THIRA Health can help this holiday season
The holidays are hard enough without depression, and adding it into the mix creates a struggle for the whole family. At THIRA Health, we offer a variety of depression treatment programs that are structured to meet your teen’s needs. From residential programs, to partial hospitalization programs, to a teen-centered intensive outpatient program, we offer holistic treatment, where a focus on DBT is balanced with yoga, mindful movement, expressive arts, and other counseling methods. We create a depression treatment plan that has your teen’s wellbeing in mind. Reach out to us today to see how we can help you, in the holiday season and year round. We are here for you.