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How to motivate a teenager with depression

How to Motivate a Teenager with Depression

Depression among teenagers is on the rise each day. This upward trend does not seem to change direction anytime soon. Although words help a lot in such situations, it’s not okay to make jokes to cheer them up as the chances of them laughing are way too low. With the question at hand being how to motivate a teenager with depression, the most effective ways to do this will be addressed and a step-by-step guide on how to motivate a depressed teenager provided.

The level of emotional and at times physical pain that teenagers with depression face are significant. As a parent or a friend of a depressed teen, it’s of utmost importance to be aware of this and adopt the right mechanism.

Whether a teen is facing a situation affective disorder, a bipolar disorder, or even major depression, they can be motivated.

Causes of Depression in Teenagers 

It’s good to know the difference between mood swings and depression in teens. It is without a doubt that mood swings are common in teens and they can easily be confused with depression moods.

Unlike depression, mood swings lead to little behavior shift and feelings. A person can carry out normal day-to-day duties even with mood swings but this is not the case for depression moods.

Among teens, below are some of the common causes of depression:

1. Trauma

Disturbing experiences in teens make them vulnerable to depression. Experiences such as the death of a loved one can make a teen have the perception that life has no meaning and as a result, be depressed or even worse – have suicidal ideation.

If an experience might be disturbing to a teen. It is important to talk to them or observe them to see if there is any behavior change. 

2. Stress 

Stress is common among teens. Adolescence is associated with many body changes and for a young, this can be a period of social, emotional, and physical disturbances. Also, they might be having personal or school matters stressing them.  

3. Social Comparison

With the current advancements in technology, social comparison is becoming a common cause of depression. The Fear of Missing out (FOMO) has a big impact on teens as they see friends’ pictures and videos. They feel their friends are doing much better in life and that they will never “make it in life”.

The use of social media has its advantages and disadvantages. Concerning depression due to social comparison, social media plays the biggest part.

4. Peer Pressure

In a person’s life, peer pressure is at its peak during teenagehood. This is because, at this stage, teens want to fit in a certain group, fear rejection, have self-esteem issues (low self-esteem), and don’t want to be socially excluded. As a result, a teen is affected by negative peer pressure, and depression, as well as anxiety, kicks in.

Apart from the above cause, depression can be a result of medication side effects. For example, one of the side effects of the intake of corticosteroids, a drug that is used in inflammatory disease treatment is depression. Also, brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are associated with depression.

How to motivate a teenager with depression

Signs of Depression in Teenagers 

There are various indicators of teen depression. One thing about teens is that they will deny they have depression even when they know aware something is not okay with them. As a concerned person, you should not take their words for it.

  •  Sadness
  • Disengaging from social activities
  • Withdrawal from social interactions and friends
  • Forgetfulness
  • Fatigue, headaches, and stomachache
  • Dropping grades and poor performance in school
  • Dramatic personality change
  • Angry outbursts and irritability
  • Negativity in communication, negative self-talk, or talking about suicide or death
  • Less interest in normal regular activities or struggling with them

If your teen shows at least two of these symptoms, then he or she might have depression.

Depression in Teenagers versus Adult

There are slight differences between depression in teens and adults. Although adults prefer talking about it and they are much more aware of what is happening to them, teens tend to talk about the signs. That is why is important to be keen.

In teenagers, there will be a change in normal behaviors, grades will suffer, less social interactions with friends, gaining or losing weight inappropriately, and general behavior change. This is not the same in adults, for example, concerning weight, adults lose weight.

How to Motivate a Teenager with Depression

In motivating a teenager with depression, being supportive is the best you can do. Show them you are there for them and encourage them to open up. Words do much of the work so use a calm tone, and encourage them to speak but don’t force the communication if they don’t want to speak.

While they are speaking, listen keenly to them without commenting and show them you do understand what they are going through. In encouraging them to speak, open-ended questions can be.

The goal in motivating a teen with depression is to be supportive and praise or notice the positive accomplishments or things that your teenager does. They might be disinterested in you but be aware that they are observing you and can hear you loud and clear and perhaps your thoughts as well.

Explain to your teen what depression is. Let them have a clear understanding of the condition and how they can overcome it. Since it’s something they cannot overcome overnight, let them know you are there if they need any assistance.

Encourage them to take any recommended medication if they have any and even go a step further to encourage them to eat well, keep negative thoughts at bay, and have enough sleep.

How to motivate a teenager with depression

Other Ways How to Motivate a Teenager with Depression 

Another thing you can do is to encourage and assist them in fostering their relationships. Social relations especially with people who play a positive role in their life can be helpful. Praise them genuinely, for any accomplishment, to boost their confidence.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you should not be judgmental when relating or communicating with a depressed teen. This is detrimental to them and can worsen the situation. In addition, don’t react if their behavior is not welcoming. If they are aggressive, try as much as possible to stay calm even if it means leaving the room for a minute.

Key Things to Keep in Mind to Fight Teen Depression 

If a teen is depressed, there are key things you can remind them or encourage them to do so that they can fight depression.   

Avoid overthinking – overthinking buries a person in his or her obsessive thoughts hence creating a feeling of restlessness and distress. If this is not dealt with, one may become depressed. Therefore, to overcome depression, a depressed teen must avoid overthinking.

Being positive – In fighting depression, positivity does magic. Encourage a depressed teen to be positive no matter the situation. Positive thoughts, words, and actions should govern the teen.

Being busy – encourage a teen with depression to be engaged. Being busy makes it difficult for a person to be worried since the mind is engaged. Lying around all day doing nothing might do more harm.

Guidance and counseling – Depression makes a person lose focus, and interest in many things and feel demotivated. In getting back what one has lost, guidance and counseling are vital. This can either be done by parents if they have the skills or by a professional. In many cases, a professional is preferred as they have extensive skills and experience gained from handling different people.

How to Fight Teen Depression Naturally 

There are various natural depression remedies that a teen can consider. Three options are effective in fighting depression naturally:


Getting enough sleep assists in fighting depression naturally. Although sleep may elude a person with depression, one can best get it by having a consistent bedtime routine. This would mean getting rid of anything that may act as a distraction in making this possible such as a mobile device or television in the bedroom.

Also, it is important to avoid caffeine especially in the afternoon and at night since it will interfere with sleep.

Vitamin D

Sun is a good source of vitamin D. A depressed teen should be encouraged to get sun exposure or get more vitamin D through diet. If lifestyle doesn’t make it possible, request the teen’s respective doctor to provide a supplement.


Its effect might not be permanent, but exercising does help in dealing with depression both in the short and long term. By saying exercise, a teen doesn’t need to undertake a vigorous exercise. Having a one-hour walk each day is enough.

In addition, one should consider having a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol and other drugs such as marijuana, and cutting back on drinks steeped in caffeine.  

Related: How to Motivate a Teenager who Doesn’t Care

At What Point Should Professional Assistance be Provided 

One thing about depression is that it doesn’t get better with time if treatment is not provided. Many teenagers won’t share their feeling with anyone and prefer keeping their life a secret. If you are suspicious or a teen has shown the above-mentioned depression signs, for more than seven days, then you should seek professional assistance from a medically approved doctor.

Waiting and hoping for a depressed teen to get better is a mistake and must never be happen. If depression is not addressed on time, it can lead to other serious medical issues as well as drug abuse and behavior problems.

Final Thoughts

Teen depression should be taken seriously. A depressed teenager requires attention, especially from family members and close friends. In dealing with it, teens should be encouraged to get rid of negative thoughts since during depression one tends to think of the worst possible outcomes or conclusions.

In fighting depression, changing how you think is where a lot of the work lies. Therefore, encourage and provide ways that can improve a teen’s mental ability in dealing with depression.

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