Your tween or teen may have just been diagnosed by a health professional with a mood disorder. Or maybe you suspect they may be living with a mood disorder and have yet to take them to see a trained mental health professional. Either way, you need to know how to effectively communicate with your young person.
Mood disorders do not go away on their own. If left unaddressed and untreated they might get worse over time, thus creating more unnecessary pain and suffering. With the right treatment, however, your young person’s mood can stabilize and over time they can return to a healthy level of functioning so they can fully enjoy their life again.
As your young person navigates their mood disorder, how you communicate with them will be key to providing support
Talking about how they feel can be a challenging and intimidating task, but it is also a vital part in helping them cope with their difficulties so they can heal. As you are working on establishing a caring and helpful way of communicating with your young person, you may want to bear in mind the following suggestions and conversation starters.
How to Communicate With Teens With a Mood Disorder
Be Fully Present and Focused on Them
Set some time aside and away from distractions and noisy surroundings. Let them know that this time is for them and about them. Listen carefully to what they are ready to share with you, make eye contact, and avoid interrupting them or judging them. It’s important that they feel they have your undivided and unconditional love and attention.
Educate Yourself on Mood Disorders
If you wish to talk to your young person about mood disorders or depression, it’s essential that you learn all you can about how these disorders, mood disorders symptoms, and how mood disorders affect adolescents. The more you know about a given disorder, the symptoms, and the treatment options, the easier it’ll be for you to understand what your young person is going through and how to help them cope with it.
Use Gentle Language & a Calm Tone
Before you start a conversation with your young person, remember that it is essential that your voice be gentle, calm, and reassuring when you talk to them. Your peaceful voice and presence will make them feel safe and will help them open up to you. A good and straightforward way to start a conversation with your young person is by letting them know what you’ve observed/noticed.
How to Start a Conversation With Your Teen With a Mood Disorder
- “I noticed that you’ve been feeling sad and a little withdrawn recently. Is there anything going on that’s making you feel that way?”
- “I noticed that you’ve been getting angry more easily lately. I really would like to understand what’s going on. Will you tell me more about what’s happening?”
- “You seem really stressed these days. Are you okay? I’m right here if you ever want to talk.”
- “You know, it’s normal to feel stressed/irritable/sad/tired at times, but if you end up feeling that way all the time then it would be a good thing for us to talk about it. Things don’t have to be this way and there are ways for you to feel better.”
- “I noticed that you seem a little depressed/sad/tired lately. Is that how you feel at the moment? Would you like to talk about it? or I want you to know I’m here for you if you need to talk.”
Encourage Treatment for Mood Disorders
Remember that mood disorders don’t get better on their own, therefore the sooner your young person gets the appropriate treatment, the better chance they have to return promptly to a more normal and fulfilling life.
Talk to them about treatment options and provide them with resources. By doing so, you will educate them about the options available to them, without being forceful. Being forceful can be counterproductive because for any treatment to be effective, your young person must want to get help and get better.
Normalize Mood Disorders
If you have been affected by depression or a mood disorder yourself, it can be very helpful to share your experience with your young person. This way you will normalize what they are going through and as a result they may feel less alone in what they’re experiencing.
Ready to elevate your parenting? Become a member of the BLOOM family today!
Gain access to workshops, coaching, and a network of supportive parents. Don’t navigate this journey alone –
Validate Their Feelings
There is nothing worse for your young person to have their feelings and emotions minimized or dismissed. This means that it is very important to be careful of any statements that might minimize how they feel. Don’t say things like:
- “Come on, snap out of it!”
- “Get your act together!”
- “Cheer up!”
- “You’re making a big deal out of nothing.”
Be Patient With Your Teen With a Mood Disorder
One of the best ways to help them is to show patience and compassion. Recovery from a mood disorder takes time and you should be prepared for setbacks and challenges.
Be Aware of and Accept Your Own Limits
Remember that you cannot cure your preteen’s or teen’s mood disorder or depression. It’s not your role. All you can do is offer compassionate and adequate support, which is huge because research shows that people with a mood disorder who receive caring support from those close to them tend to have milder symptoms and recover more quickly.
There are also several other resources such as websites and helplines you can share with your young person. Let your young person know that they can reach out for help through them to find immediate support if need be.
National Alliance on Mental Health: 1 (800) 950-6264
The compassionate staff at NAMI are trained to help you manage a mental health crisis and understand the struggles people with bipolar disorder face.
Crisis Text Line: Text “CONNECT” to 741741
This helpline provides support through text messages during crisis situations OR if you just want to talk because you are feeling angry, frustrated, scared, or hurt because of a bipolar episode.
Covenant House Teen Hotline: 1-800-TLC-TEEN (852-8336)
1-310-855-HOPE (4673) or text “TEEN” to 839863
Boys Town National Hotline: 1-800-448-3000
This hotline is for all teenagers struggling with any kind of crisis. It’s available 24/7.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-4357
This helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, treatment referral and information service for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance disorders.
Teen Tribe: This website provides peer-to-peer group support for teens who go through challenging times. This is a free service. https://support.therapytribe.com/teen-support-group/
ADAA Directory: This website allows teens and family members to search support groups in their local area, as well as phone or online groups. https://adaa.org/supportgroups
*If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. You can also reach a crisis counselor by messaging the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
Parenting can leave you feeling overwhelmed and alone, but at BLOOM you have a team behind you. Access Live and On-Demand Workshops led by the experts. Get answers to your most pressing questions through our Ask the Expert Platform. Find your village and share ideas in our Community Group surrounded by fellow parents and caregivers. Or get personalized coaching in 1-on-1 Coaching Sessions tailored to your needs. We know raising tweens and teens is hard – that’s why we created BLOOM to nurture you through the challenges and help you flourish.