Four to five percent of American teens suffer from serious depression each year. Depression can interfere with daily activities as well as become so serious it leads to suicide. While professional intervention should always be sought for a suicidal teen, natural treatments may be a viable alternative for other, less serious teen depression issues.
Teenage depression adversely affects several aspects of the adolescent’s life. A depressed teen typically withdraws from social activities and friends during a time in life where these skills need to be practiced. In addition, schoolwork can suffer and grades begin to drop. Moodiness, irritability and apathy can increase, leaving the teen’s family wondering what happened to its previously goal-oriented, social child.
MayoClinic.com reports that physical activity helps teenage depression. Encourage the teenager to choose a physically demanding activity and participate in it on a regular basis. Karate classes, jogging, walking, weightlifting, swimming and aerobics all get the endorphins pumping in the brain, which in turn makes the teenager feel better. Participating in group exercise can also boost the mood of a depressed and withdrawn teen.
Getting enough sunlight contributes to banishing depression, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Whether your teen sits out by the pool or uses a light therapy box in her bedroom, rays of light make the body produce more brain chemicals that make her feel good.
Give to Others
Volunteering to help others gives a teen purpose and a reason to get up in the morning. Volunteering to help build a Habitat for Humanity house, tutor younger students or walk the neighbor’s dog gets the teenager outside of his own head and into the lives of others. Giving back to others shows the teen his life and contributions have tangible value to the world, boosting his self-esteem and refocusing his attention outward in a positive direction.
Natural supplements including doses of omega-3 acids and St. John’s Wort, though not approved by the FDA for the treatment of depression, have been reported to alleviate depression symptoms. Be sure to get your doctor’s approval before starting any supplement regimen. St. John’s Wort has been known to interact with prescribed medications and to provoke manic episodes in some people with bipolar disorder, which is characterized by alternating depressed and energetic moods.