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July 7, 2015

Let’s call a spade a spade: For many teens, their bedroom is their sanctuary. It’s a place where dreams and ambitions may take shape. It’s their “personal” space, and part of establishing ownership in their surroundings and future independence.

But if your teen is spending all of her time cooped up in her room, and you begin questioning whether it’s normal or, perhaps, a symptom of depression—chances are, you already know the answer. Depression among teenagers is experienced at startling rate. Three-quarters of depressed adolescents may experience future mental health issues.

It may be hard to admit that your teen might be struggling. We want to believe that our children are happy, healthy and thriving. Then sometimes, in contrast, we assume the worst. We run frantically through various scenarios, allowing anxiety and worry to build, when in actuality our teen is merely going through a temporary rough patch.

If your instincts tell you something just isn’t right, take the steps necessary to find out what’s happening with your teen. Don’t wait.

Mind the Signs

Many teens go through an introspective and often dark, phase. Changes in their behavior may include: displaying little motivation and becoming withdrawn, closing their bedroom door and avoiding friends and family members.

Isolating themselves from the outside world for an extended period of time, however, is definitely a red flag. Whether your teen is depressed and struggling emotionally—or worse—something is definitely occurring which warrants your attention. Trust your gut. Fight to keep lines of communication open with your teen. Do not let them push you away; they still need you, even if they don’t acknowledge it. Find opportunities to connect without being pushy or overbearing.

The Power of the Connection

According to Dr. Michael Riera, author and speaker on parenting issues, “Connection is the foundation of a healthy parent-teenager relationship—a connection that is based on interdependence.”

Connect with your teen and give her the kind of attention that is supportive versus limiting.

  • Make it safe to come out of hiding. What does your teenager like to do? Take an interest in her music and her passions. Let her teen know you simply want to spend time with her, with no judgment and no interrogation.
  • Start with brief conversations. Avoid asking probing questions. If he feels attacked or invaded, he may shut down. Simply listen with interest.
  • Don’t label or diagnose. Avoid making her feel insecure in any way. She may already feel like she needs to be “fixed.”
  • Look for mentors. Always stay open to the fact that someone other than yourself may have better success getting your teen to open up.

Helping Your Teen

While privacy is necessary, if your teen has withdrawn completely from those around her—and you sense deeper troubles—it is time for action.

One approach to consider is an outdoor therapy program. Outdoor therapy programs focus on a holistic healing process. Teens learn life lessons that empower them to make sustainable quality-of-life changes.

There is a range of different types of nature-based therapy programs, including some that are horticultural in nature. While garden therapy programs alone inspire change, wilderness therapy programs are more granular and offer highly specialized and tailored treatment programs to struggling teenagers struggling with symptoms of depression, social anxiety and other mental health issues.

If you have a teen who’s suffering, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Therapists at Pacific Quest are equipped to work together with you and your teen on the complexities of adolescence. Opening the doors can open a world of opportunity.

Download the Adolescents Program Guide

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