Having "down" days is part of being human. Teens are no different. With the physical, emotional, social and hormonal stages that are present in the teen years, teens can become moody and have trouble controlling their emotions.
The way these minor bouts of depression are handled is obviously different than when the mood and behavior changes last for an extended period of time. Part of navigating these "down days" is teaching teens what they can manage on their own and when it is necessary to seek outside support. In the meantime, it is helpful to have a tool box of ideas for when your teen is suffering from a depressed mood.
When something is bothering your teen, the natural instinct for many parents is to rush in and fix what is wrong. Sometimes, if our teen has been seriously hurt or "wronged" we may feel like going all "Poppa or Momma Bear" over the person that hurt our baby. While this would make us feel better, take a step back and think about what you need when you are upset. Sometimes, just talking to your spouse or a trusted friend makes everything go more smoothly. Even if they cannot do anything about the injustice, they are sharing your burden.
1. Give your teen some breathing room
When your teen is struggling, it is sometimes beneficial for them to have some space to calm down, ponder and take a break from those things that are causing them stress. Letting your teen know that you are available to listen and all they need to do is come to you may be all they need to hear. (When they come for help, be sure to listen to them.) If they lock themselves in their room for hours, you may need to be more assertive.
2. Really be there for your teen
Being there is more than just playing lip service. Your teen needs to know that you are on their team, no matter what, no matter when. Actively listen with empathy to what your teen is saying. Don't try and solve the problem, but say things like, "I can see why you are hurt/frustrated/angry." You can follow this up with an open question, "Is there anything that you want me to do?" These responses will show your teen that you are there for them and you respect them.
3. Have the facial tissues ready and don't judge
Bring a box of Kleenex when you go to talk to your teen, and allow them to show their emotions. Teens are often overwhelmed with their lives and sometimes need a safe emotional outlet. (Boys, as well as girls, may need to vent.) Acting uncomfortable when your teen is expressing emotions will further distance them from you and push them deeper into depression.
4. Call in the reserves if you need to
If you find that your teen's depression is not improving they speak of harming themselves or others, or you don't see any improvement within a month or so, it is time to enlist the help of a professional. Your teen may have a more significant depression disorder and need psychological assistance.