When your child is struggling with a mental health issue, it can be heartbreaking and frustrating. You want to help but are not sure what to do or how to do it. Learning more about how to help a depressed son can benefit him and you, so that you each can find the health and well-being you need.
Know That You Are Not Alone
If you have a young son who has shown symptoms of depression, you might feel like you are all alone in your concerns for his mental health. In fact, though, about 17% of young people between the ages of 6 and 17 experience a mental health disorder. Half of all mental illness typically starts by age 14 and 75% starts by the age of 24.
Learn About Mental Illness
One of the best things you can do to help a depressed son is to learn as much as you can about the condition as well as about mental illness in general. Understand that mental illness is a health condition. Although you may not be able to prevent it, the illness can be treated.
There are many causes of mental illness, including genetics, changes in the brain, hormones, and brain chemistry. While you may feel as though you did not do enough to prevent your son from developing depression, it may well have resulted from nature rather than nurture. What’s most important is that you now acknowledge your son’s mental illness for what it is, so that you can help him address it appropriately.
If your son is away at college, it may be more difficult to recognize the symptoms of depression. Likewise, your child might be more hesitant to ask for help out of an embarrassment or a fear of not fitting in with his college crowd. Your son’s depression can get in the way of his academic success and can increase the likelihood of high risk behaviors, including substance abuse and binge drinking.
Steps to Help a Depressed Son
As a parent, you want nothing more than for your child to have a normal, happy life. If your son is experiencing depression, it’s critical that you are able to accept that the way his brain works is a part of who he is, at any age. That’s a difficult step for you and your son, but it’s important you work with him and with a professional mental health provider to find a new normal for him, one that can leverage his strengths, capabilities, and interests.
Knowing that you are not alone, reach out to support groups so that you will have someone to talk to about the challenges you and your son are experiencing. Others in these groups are going through the same issues and the same victories as you. Each person in the group can learn from the other parents, as you share openly and honestly.
Listen to your son when he does open up to you about what he is feeling, without being judgmental. As a parent, it’s tempting to tell him what he should and should not be doing, even about what he is experiencing mentally. When asking questions to learn more about his mental illness, ask “how” or “what” questions, rather than “why” questions.
Help Your Son Get the Help He Needs
Reach out to a mental health specialist, such as the professionals who specialize in treating young men at PACE Recovery. Your son needs appropriate therapy to treat his illness, just as he would need the right treatment if he were suffering from a physical illness. Evidence-based treatment tailored to a young man’s specific needs has been proven to be more effective in helping individuals like your son better manage their symptoms of depression.
Help for Your Son is Here at PACE
When you want to help your son with his mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and mood disorders, reach out to the professionals at PACE Recovery. We optimize each person’s recovery success with integrated treatment that addresses their specific mental health and substance use issues.
At PACE, we understand the challenges you are facing during this period of isolation and uncertainty. We’re here to help. Our men’s-only programming has transformed hundreds of lives over the years, and we believe that your son can recover. To learn more about our mental health and addiction services, contact our Admissions team.