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Helping Teens with Depression

Helping Teens with Depression – Dr. Kat Lewitzke of Bright Pine Behavioral Health in Clarkston offers parents tips to help teens with depression.

Helping Teens with Depression – by Dr. Kat Lewitzke

Parents may feel at a loss when struggling to understand and support their suffering teen. Let’s face it, with the advent of social media, the social landscape both in and out of school has undergone such immense changes; and it can be almost unrecognizable to most parents. Our children are under constant social scrutiny online. The real world seems to blend in seamlessly with their online persona, and this creates a harsh developmental environment. Despite this social metamorphosis, parents can still be proactive in helping their teens by executing these simple effortless steps.

Helping Teens with Depression Tips

Helping Teens with Depression Tips #1 – Create an Open Door for Communication
The best thing a parent can do is validate their child’s emotions by displaying compassion. Keeping the relationship strong is important so that the teen does not “shut them out”. The best way to achieve this, is to allow them a space to talk freely about their issues and struggles. Allow them to feel comfortable with expressing themselves, and assure them that they can come to you without judgement.

Helping Teens with Depression Tips #2 – Stay Engaged
Try asking open-ended questions about their day. Questions such as “Who did you talk to at school today?” opens up dialogue. It can lead to more questions and a better understanding of what’s going on in your child’s life. On the contrary, asking them “How was your day?” is usually a dialogue killer and can end in a single word response (i.e. “good”).

Helping Teens with Depression Tips #3 – Avoid Critical Language
Rather than saying “it is a nice day out, why don’t you go outside and enjoy the fresh air instead of staying in bed”, it may be more beneficial to offer them an option that may lead to more opportunities for meaningful connection. Instead, try keeping the criticism at a minimum by saying “I am going to the store. Would you like to come with me and maybe if you’re up to it we can have lunch?” This type of language provides choice rather than demand; which can promote engagement between you and your child and strengthen the relationship.

Helping Teens with Depression Tips #4 – Seeking Help From a Professional
If you’re still struggling to form a genuine connection, contact a professional to seek additional guidance. About 4 out 5 teens actually show symptoms of depression prior to engaging in suicidal behavior, therefore finding the right therapist can be a crucial intervention. It is important for your teen to connect to his or her therapist, so do not give up hope if rapport is not present with the first therapist they meet.

There are many different approaches to treatment. For example, a therapist trained in cognitive-behavioral therapy may attempt to increase engagement by cognitive restructuring of negative thoughts and assigning therapeutic tasks (or homework) in-between sessions. This may include having your teen track negative thoughts in-between sessions. The therapist will work constructively with the teen to help them apply coping techniques and build problem-solving skills.

Helping Teens with Depression Tips #5 – Join a Support Group
Group therapy is another option that can work as an additive or replacement to individual therapy. Groups can range from 3 to 12 participants, and the group setting can allow individuals the opportunity to connect with others who are also struggling. When teens are surrounded by peers they may feel less intimated to open up about their symptoms of depression rather than in a one-on-one individual therapy session.


To summarize, genuinely engaging your child in hopes of forming a meaningful connection may lead to more open communication and create a bond that is anchored by family support; a critical environment to beating depression. It’s also important to note that symptoms of depression may not always be displayed as tears and sadness. Often, I see patients coming into my office who describe their child as argumentative, or report that they are struggling in school. If you’ve tried everything without success, a more thorough evaluation may be warranted to better understand and quantify the difficulties your child is experiencing.

ABOUT Dr Kat Lewitzke
Dr Kat Lewitzke is a clinical psychologist and the director of Bright Pine Behavioral Health; a private mental health facility located in Clarkston, Michigan. She works with children, teens, and adults, and specializes in psychological and neuropsychological testing to assess those struggling with behavioral concerns, emotional issues, learning difficulties, attention deficits, memory problems, and speech delay. For more information, please visit the clinic website –

Bright Pine Behavioral Health Clarkston
Bright Pine Behavioral Health is a private mental health practice located in Oakland County. They provide comprehensive standardized neuropsychological assessment and therapy services for the treatment of behavioral problems, mood, anxiety, and neurodevelopmental conditions. Bright Pine Behavioral Health Clarkston works with children, teens, and adults.

Bright Pine Behavioral Health Clarkston
6060 Dixie Highway, Suite H
Clarkston, MI 48346

For more info on Helping Teens with Depression, call our friends at Bright Pine Behavioral Health at 248-455-6619 or visit

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