You believe that your daughter is suffering from depression. Her erratic behavior is more than the normal ups and downs of a teenager. What can you do?
First and foremost, accompany her to a mental health professional, preferably someone who specializes in adolescence. You cannot, nor should not, try to handle this situation on your own. This is especially true if she is showing suicidal tendencies. If your daughter were suffering from a physical illness, you would bring her to the best specialist in town. It’s no different with depression.
Additionally you can:
Let her know that you are there, no matter what. You care and you want to understand what she’s going through.
Persuade her to share her thoughts and feelings.
Listen. Listen. And listen some more. And keep an open mind and heart. There is no right and wrong here. Only a daughter who is suffering. You may only have half the answers, but by being there you will make a difference.
In order to instill hope and to provide support, share some of your own experiences that were not pleasant but that ended positively. This will also help her open up and speak about her own problems.
Don’t minimize her troubles. Her worries may seem little to you, but they are very real to your daughter.
Encourage her to talk to other adults, including relatives, teachers, coaches and clergy to get different perspectives.
Take her to a place that she usually enjoys such as a favorite restaurant, shopping center, movie or sports activity. She needs a chance to unwind and remember what it is like to have fun. If she can’t relax, don’t force her.
These will not be easy times. If your teenager was rebelling before, she may rebel even more now. Everyone is the enemy until she gets things figured out. So expect rebuffs. Don’t be surprised if she responds to you in an irritable and negative way. Patience, so it’s said, is a virtue. And in this case, it is indeed.
Most of all, let your daughter know how much you love her. Give her distance when she wants to be alone. And be there when she reaches out to you. A kiss and a hug can easily take the place of a thousand words.